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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, no rx innopran xl blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. No rx innopran xl He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, no rx innopran xl coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, no rx innopran xl 42-14, no rx innopran xl Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

“That was definitely a scheme play, no rx innopran xl” Lloyd said. No rx innopran xl “We worked hard on that all week, no rx innopran xl and when the opportunity presented itself, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl catching seven passes for 89 yards, no rx innopran xl his second-highest total of the season.

He scored two touchdowns, no rx innopran xl the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, no rx innopran xl after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. No rx innopran xl The ball bounced forward, no rx innopran xl with Lloyd diving on it. No rx innopran xl Not how it’s drawn up, no rx innopran xl but the way the night went.

“Just a screen pass, no rx innopran xl we do our best to block downfield, no rx innopran xl and unfortunately the ball popped out, no rx innopran xl” Lloyd said. No rx innopran xl “But we were there to make the play.”

All lined up

Since the start of the season, no rx innopran xl the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, no rx innopran xl with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.

For the first time in a month, no rx innopran xl and just the sixth time this season, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl Logan Mankins at left guard, no rx innopran xl Ryan Wendell at center, no rx innopran xl Dan Connolly at right guard, no rx innopran xl and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.

The group was made whole again with the return of Mankins, no rx innopran xl who had missed three consecutive games — and five of six — with ankle and calf injuries. No rx innopran xl He was back at practice last week, no rx innopran xl in a limited role, no rx innopran xl but was in the starting lineup Monday night, no rx innopran xl relegating Donald Thomas to reserve status.

Another key starter also returned from injury, no rx innopran xl with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, no rx innopran xl defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, no rx innopran xl safety Derrick Martin, no rx innopran xl and fullback James Develin, no rx innopran xl who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. No rx innopran xl 28, no rx innopran xl but has yet to play.

Bolden: Return man

The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl a rookie from Mississippi, no rx innopran xl was suspended by the NFL on Nov. No rx innopran xl 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. No rx innopran xl He hadn’t played since Oct. No rx innopran xl 14 at Seattle, no rx innopran xl when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. No rx innopran xl The injury cost him two games, no rx innopran xl then the suspension added four more.

With 234 yards on 43 carries, no rx innopran xl Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, no rx innopran xl and his 5.4-yard average led the team. No rx innopran xl Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, no rx innopran xl gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.

Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, no rx innopran xl the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. No rx innopran xl But he was ready to talk after the game, no rx innopran xl in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.

“Felt good, no rx innopran xl” Bolden said. No rx innopran xl “Missing four weeks, no rx innopran xl you try not to get out of shape, no rx innopran xl you keep yourself active, no rx innopran xl it felt good getting out there for the first time.”

As for the suspension?

“It was a mistake. No rx innopran xl Saddened that it happened, no rx innopran xl but the team kept going, no rx innopran xl so just got to keep moving forward, no rx innopran xl” Bolden said. No rx innopran xl “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

With the interception, no rx innopran xl the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, no rx innopran xl one behind the Chicago Bears. No rx innopran xl Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.

“We know we have a good defense here, no rx innopran xl we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, no rx innopran xl” McCourty said. No rx innopran xl “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”

Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. No rx innopran xl Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, no rx innopran xl inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, no rx innopran xl but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. No rx innopran xl On the next play, no rx innopran xl Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.



Early in the fourth quarter, no rx innopran xl Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. No rx innopran xl Watt. No rx innopran xl The ball flew into the end zone, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl Ohio, no rx innopran xl and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, no rx innopran xl Canton is coming to you this week. No rx innopran xl Well, no rx innopran xl at least it’s coming to Foxborough. No rx innopran xl In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, no rx innopran xl the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, no rx innopran xl Andre Tippett, no rx innopran xl Nick Buoniconti, no rx innopran xl Mike Haynes, no rx innopran xl 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 innopran xl with Tippett, no rx innopran xl Haynes, no rx innopran xl and Martin serving as honorary captains.

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. No rx innopran xl Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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