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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

“That was definitely a scheme play, oral health dogs free sample” Lloyd said. Oral health dogs free sample “We worked hard on that all week, oral health dogs free sample and when the opportunity presented itself, oral health dogs 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, oral health dogs free sample catching seven passes for 89 yards, oral health dogs free sample his second-highest total of the season.

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

“Just a screen pass, oral health dogs free sample we do our best to block downfield, oral health dogs free sample and unfortunately the ball popped out, oral health dogs free sample” Lloyd said. Oral health dogs free sample “But we were there to make the play.”

All lined up

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

For the first time in a month, oral health dogs free sample and just the sixth time this season, oral health dogs 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, oral health dogs free sample Logan Mankins at left guard, oral health dogs free sample Ryan Wendell at center, oral health dogs free sample Dan Connolly at right guard, oral health dogs free sample and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.

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

Another key starter also returned from injury, oral health dogs free sample with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, oral health dogs 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. Oral health dogs free sample The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, oral health dogs free sample defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, oral health dogs free sample safety Derrick Martin, oral health dogs free sample and fullback James Develin, oral health dogs free sample who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Oral health dogs free sample 28, oral health dogs free sample but has yet to play.

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

“Felt good, oral health dogs free sample” Bolden said. Oral health dogs free sample “Missing four weeks, oral health dogs free sample you try not to get out of shape, oral health dogs free sample you keep yourself active, oral health dogs free sample it felt good getting out there for the first time.”

As for the suspension?

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

With the interception, oral health dogs free sample the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, oral health dogs free sample one behind the Chicago Bears. Oral health dogs free sample Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Oral health dogs 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