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