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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

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

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

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

All lined up

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

For the first time in a month, order no rx abana and just the sixth time this season, order no rx abana the Patriots began the game with the five players who are designated by the team as its starters: Nate Solder at left tackle, order no rx abana Logan Mankins at left guard, order no rx abana Ryan Wendell at center, order no rx abana Dan Connolly at right guard, order no rx abana and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.

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

Another key starter also returned from injury, order no rx abana with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, order no rx abana back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his third straight game with a broken forearm. Order no rx abana The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, order no rx abana defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, order no rx abana safety Derrick Martin, order no rx abana and fullback James Develin, order no rx abana who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Order no rx abana 28, order no rx abana but has yet to play.

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Order no rx abana Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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