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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, find slimpulse online but the Patriots were fully aware of the attention given to the Houston Texans and their preference for play-action passes on offense.

So when quarterback Tom Brady perfectly sold a handoff the second time the Patriots had the ball, find slimpulse online receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, find slimpulse online blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. Find slimpulse online He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, find slimpulse online coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, find slimpulse online 42-14, find slimpulse online Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

“That was definitely a scheme play, find slimpulse online” Lloyd said. Find slimpulse online “We worked hard on that all week, find slimpulse online and when the opportunity presented itself, find slimpulse online Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”

Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, find slimpulse online catching seven passes for 89 yards, find slimpulse online his second-highest total of the season.

He scored two touchdowns, find slimpulse online the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, find slimpulse online after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. Find slimpulse online The ball bounced forward, find slimpulse online with Lloyd diving on it. Find slimpulse online Not how it’s drawn up, find slimpulse online but the way the night went.

“Just a screen pass, find slimpulse online we do our best to block downfield, find slimpulse online and unfortunately the ball popped out, find slimpulse online” Lloyd said. Find slimpulse online “But we were there to make the play.”

All lined up

Since the start of the season, find slimpulse online the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, find slimpulse online with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.

For the first time in a month, find slimpulse online and just the sixth time this season, find slimpulse online the Patriots began the game with the five players who are designated by the team as its starters: Nate Solder at left tackle, find slimpulse online Logan Mankins at left guard, find slimpulse online Ryan Wendell at center, find slimpulse online Dan Connolly at right guard, find slimpulse online and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.

The group was made whole again with the return of Mankins, find slimpulse online who had missed three consecutive games — and five of six — with ankle and calf injuries. Find slimpulse online He was back at practice last week, find slimpulse online in a limited role, find slimpulse online but was in the starting lineup Monday night, find slimpulse online relegating Donald Thomas to reserve status.

Another key starter also returned from injury, find slimpulse online with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, find slimpulse online back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his third straight game with a broken forearm. Find slimpulse online The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, find slimpulse online defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, find slimpulse online safety Derrick Martin, find slimpulse online and fullback James Develin, find slimpulse online who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Find slimpulse online 28, find slimpulse online but has yet to play.

Bolden: Return man

The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, find slimpulse online activating Brandon Bolden to the 53-man roster and making him eligible to play against the Texans after the running back served a four-game suspension.

Bolden, find slimpulse online a rookie from Mississippi, find slimpulse online was suspended by the NFL on Nov. Find slimpulse online 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Find slimpulse online He hadn’t played since Oct. Find slimpulse online 14 at Seattle, find slimpulse online when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. Find slimpulse online The injury cost him two games, find slimpulse online then the suspension added four more.

With 234 yards on 43 carries, find slimpulse online Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, find slimpulse online and his 5.4-yard average led the team. Find slimpulse online Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, find slimpulse online gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.

Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, find slimpulse online the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. Find slimpulse online But he was ready to talk after the game, find slimpulse online in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.

“Felt good, find slimpulse online” Bolden said. Find slimpulse online “Missing four weeks, find slimpulse online you try not to get out of shape, find slimpulse online you keep yourself active, find slimpulse online it felt good getting out there for the first time.”

As for the suspension?

“It was a mistake. Find slimpulse online Saddened that it happened, find slimpulse online but the team kept going, find slimpulse online so just got to keep moving forward, find slimpulse online” Bolden said. Find slimpulse online “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, find slimpulse online make sure I don’t fall too far off.”

Turning their way

Devin McCourty’s end-zone interception on Houston’s second offensive series of the game extended the Patriots’ streak of forcing at least one turnover to 24 games. Find slimpulse online The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

With the interception, find slimpulse online the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, find slimpulse online one behind the Chicago Bears. Find slimpulse online Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.

“We know we have a good defense here, find slimpulse online we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, find slimpulse online” McCourty said. Find slimpulse online “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”

Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. Find slimpulse online Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, find slimpulse online inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, find slimpulse online but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. Find slimpulse online On the next play, find slimpulse online Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.



Early in the fourth quarter, find slimpulse online Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. Find slimpulse online Watt. Find slimpulse online The ball flew into the end zone, find slimpulse online with Lloyd diving on it for an unlikely touchdown.

Handing out Hall passes

If you’re a Patriots fan who’s never been to Canton, find slimpulse online Ohio, find slimpulse online and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, find slimpulse online Canton is coming to you this week. Find slimpulse online Well, find slimpulse online at least it’s coming to Foxborough. Find slimpulse online In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, find slimpulse online the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, find slimpulse online Andre Tippett, find slimpulse online Nick Buoniconti, find slimpulse online Mike Haynes, find slimpulse online and Curtis Martin — will be on display at the Hall at Patriot Place.

The weeklong celebration will culminate with Sunday night’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers, find slimpulse online with Tippett, find slimpulse online Haynes, find slimpulse online and Martin serving as honorary captains.

Secondary injuries

One downside to the Patriots’ victory was injuries to the defensive secondary. Find slimpulse online The Patriots announced injuries to Aqib Talib (hip) and Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring). Find slimpulse online Neither returned to the game after getting injured . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online With Julian Edelman out for the season with a foot injury, find slimpulse online Wes Welker took over the Patriots’ punt return duties. Find slimpulse online He returned four for 50 yards, find slimpulse online with a long of 31 . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online Welker also caught three passes, find slimpulse online pushing his streak of consecutive regular-season games with a catch to 107 . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online Donte Stallworth made the most of his return to the Patriots. Find slimpulse online He caught only one pass from Brady, find slimpulse online but the catch-and-run went for 63 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, find slimpulse online making it 28-0. Find slimpulse online It was a case of practice makes perfect, find slimpulse online even if the practice had been a while ago. Find slimpulse online “That particular play is something we had worked on, find slimpulse online even in the spring, find slimpulse online’’ he said. Find slimpulse online “It was just an opportunity where they were kind of flat-footed and it gave me an opportunity to run by the guy and Tommy made a great throw. Find slimpulse online He put it up for me to catch it and that’s what I did.’’ . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online His team off until Wednesday, find slimpulse online Celtics coach Doc Rivers was spotted on the sideline observing pregame warmups, find slimpulse online wearing a Patriots red sweater and chatting up his Patriots counterpart, find slimpulse online Bill Belichick. Find slimpulse online Also in on the conversation: Boston sports fan Mark Wahlberg. Find slimpulse online Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was also at the game, find slimpulse online wearing a No. Find slimpulse online 83 Patriots jersey . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online The Patriots extended their December winning streak to 13 games, find slimpulse online dating to a 22-21 loss at Miami on Dec. Find slimpulse online 6, find slimpulse online 2009. Find slimpulse online It ties the Patriots for the second-longest such streak with the Dallas Cowboys, find slimpulse online who accomplished the feat from 1968-72. Find slimpulse online The record belongs to the San Diego Chargers, find slimpulse online winners of 18 straight from 2006-09. Find slimpulse online New England also has won 21 straight games in the second half of the regular season. Find slimpulse online The Patriots went 8-0 in the second half of 2010, find slimpulse online 8-0 in 2011, find slimpulse online and have won their first five this season. Find slimpulse online The last loss from the back half of the schedule came in the regular-season finale in 2009, find slimpulse online when the Patriots lost at Houston, find slimpulse online 34-27 … In a pre-game Twitter message, find slimpulse online self-described Patriots fan Donald Trump posted, find slimpulse online “Good Luck to Bob Kraft, find slimpulse online Tom Brady and Coach Bob Belichick tonight.” Needless to say, find slimpulse online the Donald got plenty of unwanted attention for his fumble . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online . Find slimpulse online Keep an eye out for Jerod Mayo on Tuesday. Find slimpulse online He’ll be joining Subway spokesman Jared Fogle during multiple appearances around town, find slimpulse online thanking unassuming fans with a dozen acts of kindness.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Find slimpulse online Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

Source: http://bostonglobe.com/sports/2012/12/11/logan-mankins-returns-makes-patriots-line-whole/A1Xtp2mNJfSRC0vUxtSlUI/story.html