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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

“That was definitely a scheme play, order ansaid online” Lloyd said. Order ansaid online “We worked hard on that all week, order ansaid online and when the opportunity presented itself, order ansaid online Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”

Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, order ansaid online catching seven passes for 89 yards, order ansaid online his second-highest total of the season.

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

“Just a screen pass, order ansaid online we do our best to block downfield, order ansaid online and unfortunately the ball popped out, order ansaid online” Lloyd said. Order ansaid online “But we were there to make the play.”

All lined up

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

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

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

Another key starter also returned from injury, order ansaid online with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, order ansaid online back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.

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

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

“Felt good, order ansaid online” Bolden said. Order ansaid online “Missing four weeks, order ansaid online you try not to get out of shape, order ansaid online you keep yourself active, order ansaid online it felt good getting out there for the first time.”

As for the suspension?

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

With the interception, order ansaid online the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, order ansaid online one behind the Chicago Bears. Order ansaid online Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.

“We know we have a good defense here, order ansaid online we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, order ansaid online” McCourty said. Order ansaid online “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Order ansaid online Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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