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By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff

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

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

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

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

All lined up

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

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

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

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

Bolden: Return man

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

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

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

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

As for the suspension?

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

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

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

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



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

Secondary injuries

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

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