By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, free albendazole 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, free albendazole receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, free albendazole blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. Free albendazole He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, free albendazole coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, free albendazole 42-14, free albendazole Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
“That was definitely a scheme play, free albendazole” Lloyd said. Free albendazole “We worked hard on that all week, free albendazole and when the opportunity presented itself, free albendazole Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, free albendazole catching seven passes for 89 yards, free albendazole his second-highest total of the season.
He scored two touchdowns, free albendazole the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, free albendazole after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. Free albendazole The ball bounced forward, free albendazole with Lloyd diving on it. Free albendazole Not how it’s drawn up, free albendazole but the way the night went.
“Just a screen pass, free albendazole we do our best to block downfield, free albendazole and unfortunately the ball popped out, free albendazole” Lloyd said. Free albendazole “But we were there to make the play.”
All lined up
Since the start of the season, free albendazole the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, free albendazole with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.
For the first time in a month, free albendazole and just the sixth time this season, free albendazole the Patriots began the game with the five players who are designated by the team as its starters: Nate Solder at left tackle, free albendazole Logan Mankins at left guard, free albendazole Ryan Wendell at center, free albendazole Dan Connolly at right guard, free albendazole and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.
The group was made whole again with the return of Mankins, free albendazole who had missed three consecutive games — and five of six — with ankle and calf injuries. Free albendazole He was back at practice last week, free albendazole in a limited role, free albendazole but was in the starting lineup Monday night, free albendazole relegating Donald Thomas to reserve status.
Another key starter also returned from injury, free albendazole with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, free albendazole back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his third straight game with a broken forearm. Free albendazole The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, free albendazole defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, free albendazole safety Derrick Martin, free albendazole and fullback James Develin, free albendazole who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Free albendazole 28, free albendazole but has yet to play.
Bolden: Return man
The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, free albendazole 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, free albendazole a rookie from Mississippi, free albendazole was suspended by the NFL on Nov. Free albendazole 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Free albendazole He hadn’t played since Oct. Free albendazole 14 at Seattle, free albendazole when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. Free albendazole The injury cost him two games, free albendazole then the suspension added four more.
With 234 yards on 43 carries, free albendazole Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, free albendazole and his 5.4-yard average led the team. Free albendazole Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, free albendazole gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.
Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, free albendazole the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. Free albendazole But he was ready to talk after the game, free albendazole in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.
“Felt good, free albendazole” Bolden said. Free albendazole “Missing four weeks, free albendazole you try not to get out of shape, free albendazole you keep yourself active, free albendazole it felt good getting out there for the first time.”
As for the suspension?
“It was a mistake. Free albendazole Saddened that it happened, free albendazole but the team kept going, free albendazole so just got to keep moving forward, free albendazole” Bolden said. Free albendazole “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, free albendazole 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. Free albendazole The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.
With the interception, free albendazole the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, free albendazole one behind the Chicago Bears. Free albendazole Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.
“We know we have a good defense here, free albendazole we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, free albendazole” McCourty said. Free albendazole “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”
Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. Free albendazole Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, free albendazole inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, free albendazole but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. Free albendazole On the next play, free albendazole Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.
Early in the fourth quarter, free albendazole Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. Free albendazole Watt. Free albendazole The ball flew into the end zone, free albendazole 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, free albendazole Ohio, free albendazole and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, free albendazole Canton is coming to you this week. Free albendazole Well, free albendazole at least it’s coming to Foxborough. Free albendazole In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, free albendazole the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, free albendazole Andre Tippett, free albendazole Nick Buoniconti, free albendazole Mike Haynes, free albendazole 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, free albendazole with Tippett, free albendazole Haynes, free albendazole and Martin serving as honorary captains.
One downside to the Patriots’ victory was injuries to the defensive secondary. Free albendazole The Patriots announced injuries to Aqib Talib (hip) and Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring). Free albendazole Neither returned to the game after getting injured . Free albendazole . Free albendazole . Free albendazole With Julian Edelman out for the season with a foot injury, free albendazole Wes Welker took over the Patriots’ punt return duties. Free albendazole He returned four for 50 yards, free albendazole with a long of 31 . Free albendazole . Free albendazole . Free albendazole Welker also caught three passes, free albendazole pushing his streak of consecutive regular-season games with a catch to 107 . Free albendazole . Free albendazole . Free albendazole Donte Stallworth made the most of his return to the Patriots. Free albendazole He caught only one pass from Brady, free albendazole but the catch-and-run went for 63 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, free albendazole making it 28-0. Free albendazole It was a case of practice makes perfect, free albendazole even if the practice had been a while ago. Free albendazole “That particular play is something we had worked on, free albendazole even in the spring, free albendazole’’ he said. Free albendazole “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. Free albendazole He put it up for me to catch it and that’s what I did.’’ . Free albendazole . Free albendazole . Free albendazole His team off until Wednesday, free albendazole Celtics coach Doc Rivers was spotted on the sideline observing pregame warmups, free albendazole wearing a Patriots red sweater and chatting up his Patriots counterpart, free albendazole Bill Belichick. Free albendazole Also in on the conversation: Boston sports fan Mark Wahlberg. Free albendazole Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was also at the game, free albendazole wearing a No. Free albendazole 83 Patriots jersey . Free albendazole . Free albendazole . Free albendazole The Patriots extended their December winning streak to 13 games, free albendazole dating to a 22-21 loss at Miami on Dec. Free albendazole 6, free albendazole 2009. Free albendazole It ties the Patriots for the second-longest such streak with the Dallas Cowboys, free albendazole who accomplished the feat from 1968-72. Free albendazole The record belongs to the San Diego Chargers, free albendazole winners of 18 straight from 2006-09. Free albendazole New England also has won 21 straight games in the second half of the regular season. Free albendazole The Patriots went 8-0 in the second half of 2010, free albendazole 8-0 in 2011, free albendazole and have won their first five this season. Free albendazole The last loss from the back half of the schedule came in the regular-season finale in 2009, free albendazole when the Patriots lost at Houston, free albendazole 34-27 … In a pre-game Twitter message, free albendazole self-described Patriots fan Donald Trump posted, free albendazole “Good Luck to Bob Kraft, free albendazole Tom Brady and Coach Bob Belichick tonight.” Needless to say, free albendazole the Donald got plenty of unwanted attention for his fumble . Free albendazole . Free albendazole . Free albendazole Keep an eye out for Jerod Mayo on Tuesday. Free albendazole He’ll be joining Subway spokesman Jared Fogle during multiple appearances around town, free albendazole thanking unassuming fans with a dozen acts of kindness.
Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Free albendazole Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.