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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

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

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

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

All lined up

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

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

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

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

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Paxil 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