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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, lh ovulation strip test free sample 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, lh ovulation strip test free sample receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, lh ovulation strip test free sample blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. Lh ovulation strip test free sample He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, lh ovulation strip test free sample coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, lh ovulation strip test free sample 42-14, lh ovulation strip test free sample Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

“That was definitely a scheme play, lh ovulation strip test free sample” Lloyd said. Lh ovulation strip test free sample “We worked hard on that all week, lh ovulation strip test free sample and when the opportunity presented itself, lh ovulation strip test free sample Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”

Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, lh ovulation strip test free sample catching seven passes for 89 yards, lh ovulation strip test free sample his second-highest total of the season.

He scored two touchdowns, lh ovulation strip test free sample the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, lh ovulation strip test free sample after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. Lh ovulation strip test free sample The ball bounced forward, lh ovulation strip test free sample with Lloyd diving on it. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Not how it’s drawn up, lh ovulation strip test free sample but the way the night went.

“Just a screen pass, lh ovulation strip test free sample we do our best to block downfield, lh ovulation strip test free sample and unfortunately the ball popped out, lh ovulation strip test free sample” Lloyd said. Lh ovulation strip test free sample “But we were there to make the play.”

All lined up

Since the start of the season, lh ovulation strip test free sample the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, lh ovulation strip test free sample with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.

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

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

Another key starter also returned from injury, lh ovulation strip test free sample with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, lh ovulation strip test free sample back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.

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

Bolden: Return man

The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, lh ovulation strip test free sample 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, lh ovulation strip test free sample a rookie from Mississippi, lh ovulation strip test free sample was suspended by the NFL on Nov. Lh ovulation strip test free sample 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Lh ovulation strip test free sample He hadn’t played since Oct. Lh ovulation strip test free sample 14 at Seattle, lh ovulation strip test free sample when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. Lh ovulation strip test free sample The injury cost him two games, lh ovulation strip test free sample then the suspension added four more.

With 234 yards on 43 carries, lh ovulation strip test free sample Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, lh ovulation strip test free sample and his 5.4-yard average led the team. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, lh ovulation strip test free sample gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.

Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, lh ovulation strip test free sample the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. Lh ovulation strip test free sample But he was ready to talk after the game, lh ovulation strip test free sample in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.

“Felt good, lh ovulation strip test free sample” Bolden said. Lh ovulation strip test free sample “Missing four weeks, lh ovulation strip test free sample you try not to get out of shape, lh ovulation strip test free sample you keep yourself active, lh ovulation strip test free sample it felt good getting out there for the first time.”

As for the suspension?

“It was a mistake. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Saddened that it happened, lh ovulation strip test free sample but the team kept going, lh ovulation strip test free sample so just got to keep moving forward, lh ovulation strip test free sample” Bolden said. Lh ovulation strip test free sample “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, lh ovulation strip test free sample 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. Lh ovulation strip test free sample The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

With the interception, lh ovulation strip test free sample the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, lh ovulation strip test free sample one behind the Chicago Bears. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.

“We know we have a good defense here, lh ovulation strip test free sample we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, lh ovulation strip test free sample” McCourty said. Lh ovulation strip test free sample “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”

Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, lh ovulation strip test free sample inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, lh ovulation strip test free sample but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. Lh ovulation strip test free sample On the next play, lh ovulation strip test free sample Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.



Early in the fourth quarter, lh ovulation strip test free sample Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Watt. Lh ovulation strip test free sample The ball flew into the end zone, lh ovulation strip test free sample 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, lh ovulation strip test free sample Ohio, lh ovulation strip test free sample and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, lh ovulation strip test free sample Canton is coming to you this week. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Well, lh ovulation strip test free sample at least it’s coming to Foxborough. Lh ovulation strip test free sample In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, lh ovulation strip test free sample the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, lh ovulation strip test free sample Andre Tippett, lh ovulation strip test free sample Nick Buoniconti, lh ovulation strip test free sample Mike Haynes, lh ovulation strip test free sample 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, lh ovulation strip test free sample with Tippett, lh ovulation strip test free sample Haynes, lh ovulation strip test free sample and Martin serving as honorary captains.

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Lh ovulation strip test free sample Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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