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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

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

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

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

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

All lined up

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

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

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

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

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

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

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

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