Xeloda In Us
By Michael Whitmer | Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH — They might not have come right out and said it, xeloda in us 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, xeloda in us receiver Brandon Lloyd never broke stride, xeloda in us blowing past the Texans who bit on the run possibility. Xeloda in us He caught Brady’s pass without a defender near him, xeloda in us coasting into the end zone and pushing the Patriots’ lead to 14-0 in a game they would win handily, xeloda in us 42-14, xeloda in us Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
“That was definitely a scheme play, xeloda in us” Lloyd said. Xeloda in us “We worked hard on that all week, xeloda in us and when the opportunity presented itself, xeloda in us Coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Lloyd took advantage of his opportunities, xeloda in us catching seven passes for 89 yards, xeloda in us his second-highest total of the season.
He scored two touchdowns, xeloda in us the second coming on a fumble recovery in the end zone, xeloda in us after Danny Woodhead lost the ball on a screen pass. Xeloda in us The ball bounced forward, xeloda in us with Lloyd diving on it. Xeloda in us Not how it’s drawn up, xeloda in us but the way the night went.
“Just a screen pass, xeloda in us we do our best to block downfield, xeloda in us and unfortunately the ball popped out, xeloda in us” Lloyd said. Xeloda in us “But we were there to make the play.”
All lined up
Since the start of the season, xeloda in us the Patriots’ depth chart on the offensive line read more like a wish list than a realistic starting lineup, xeloda in us with an assortment of injuries resulting in five different combinations.
For the first time in a month, xeloda in us and just the sixth time this season, xeloda in us the Patriots began the game with the five players who are designated by the team as its starters: Nate Solder at left tackle, xeloda in us Logan Mankins at left guard, xeloda in us Ryan Wendell at center, xeloda in us Dan Connolly at right guard, xeloda in us and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.
The group was made whole again with the return of Mankins, xeloda in us who had missed three consecutive games — and five of six — with ankle and calf injuries. Xeloda in us He was back at practice last week, xeloda in us in a limited role, xeloda in us but was in the starting lineup Monday night, xeloda in us relegating Donald Thomas to reserve status.
Another key starter also returned from injury, xeloda in us with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones, xeloda in us back after sitting out two games with an ankle injury.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his third straight game with a broken forearm. Xeloda in us The other inactive players were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Markus Zusevics, xeloda in us defensive linemen Jake Bequette and Ron Brace, xeloda in us safety Derrick Martin, xeloda in us and fullback James Develin, xeloda in us who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. Xeloda in us 28, xeloda in us but has yet to play.
Bolden: Return man
The Patriots made the expected move official roughly three hours before kickoff, xeloda in us 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, xeloda in us a rookie from Mississippi, xeloda in us was suspended by the NFL on Nov. Xeloda in us 9 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Xeloda in us He hadn’t played since Oct. Xeloda in us 14 at Seattle, xeloda in us when he injured a knee against the Seahawks. Xeloda in us The injury cost him two games, xeloda in us then the suspension added four more.
With 234 yards on 43 carries, xeloda in us Bolden came into the Texans game with the second-most rushing yards for the Patriots, xeloda in us and his 5.4-yard average led the team. Xeloda in us Stevan Ridley has been the workhorse since Bolden was forced out, xeloda in us gaining 486 yards in the six games Bolden missed.
Bolden declined interview requests Saturday, xeloda in us the first time he had been spotted in the locker room since the suspension was announced. Xeloda in us But he was ready to talk after the game, xeloda in us in which he played on special teams and got two late carries for 11 yards.
“Felt good, xeloda in us” Bolden said. Xeloda in us “Missing four weeks, xeloda in us you try not to get out of shape, xeloda in us you keep yourself active, xeloda in us it felt good getting out there for the first time.”
As for the suspension?
“It was a mistake. Xeloda in us Saddened that it happened, xeloda in us but the team kept going, xeloda in us so just got to keep moving forward, xeloda in us” Bolden said. Xeloda in us “Worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, xeloda in us 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. Xeloda in us The last team to force at least one turnover in every regular-season game was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.
With the interception, xeloda in us the Patriots have now forced 34 takeaways, xeloda in us one behind the Chicago Bears. Xeloda in us Their plus-24 turnover differential continues to lead the league.
“We know we have a good defense here, xeloda in us we’ve played really well the last couple of weeks, xeloda in us” McCourty said. Xeloda in us “The biggest focus for us is just trying to build on that.”
Even when the Patriots fumbled the bounces went their way. Xeloda in us Ridley lost the ball on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, xeloda in us inside the Texans’ 5-yard-line, xeloda in us but Aaron Hernandez jumped on it to extend the drive. Xeloda in us On the next play, xeloda in us Hernandez caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.
Early in the fourth quarter, xeloda in us Woodhead fumbled after catching a screen pass and being hit from behind by J.J. Xeloda in us Watt. Xeloda in us The ball flew into the end zone, xeloda in us 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, xeloda in us Ohio, xeloda in us and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, xeloda in us Canton is coming to you this week. Xeloda in us Well, xeloda in us at least it’s coming to Foxborough. Xeloda in us In recognition of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, xeloda in us the busts of the five former Patriots who have been enshrined — John Hannah, xeloda in us Andre Tippett, xeloda in us Nick Buoniconti, xeloda in us Mike Haynes, xeloda in us 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, xeloda in us with Tippett, xeloda in us Haynes, xeloda in us and Martin serving as honorary captains.
One downside to the Patriots’ victory was injuries to the defensive secondary. Xeloda in us The Patriots announced injuries to Aqib Talib (hip) and Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring). Xeloda in us Neither returned to the game after getting injured . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us With Julian Edelman out for the season with a foot injury, xeloda in us Wes Welker took over the Patriots’ punt return duties. Xeloda in us He returned four for 50 yards, xeloda in us with a long of 31 . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us Welker also caught three passes, xeloda in us pushing his streak of consecutive regular-season games with a catch to 107 . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us Donte Stallworth made the most of his return to the Patriots. Xeloda in us He caught only one pass from Brady, xeloda in us but the catch-and-run went for 63 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, xeloda in us making it 28-0. Xeloda in us It was a case of practice makes perfect, xeloda in us even if the practice had been a while ago. Xeloda in us “That particular play is something we had worked on, xeloda in us even in the spring, xeloda in us’’ he said. Xeloda in us “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. Xeloda in us He put it up for me to catch it and that’s what I did.’’ . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us His team off until Wednesday, xeloda in us Celtics coach Doc Rivers was spotted on the sideline observing pregame warmups, xeloda in us wearing a Patriots red sweater and chatting up his Patriots counterpart, xeloda in us Bill Belichick. Xeloda in us Also in on the conversation: Boston sports fan Mark Wahlberg. Xeloda in us Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was also at the game, xeloda in us wearing a No. Xeloda in us 83 Patriots jersey . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us The Patriots extended their December winning streak to 13 games, xeloda in us dating to a 22-21 loss at Miami on Dec. Xeloda in us 6, xeloda in us 2009. Xeloda in us It ties the Patriots for the second-longest such streak with the Dallas Cowboys, xeloda in us who accomplished the feat from 1968-72. Xeloda in us The record belongs to the San Diego Chargers, xeloda in us winners of 18 straight from 2006-09. Xeloda in us New England also has won 21 straight games in the second half of the regular season. Xeloda in us The Patriots went 8-0 in the second half of 2010, xeloda in us 8-0 in 2011, xeloda in us and have won their first five this season. Xeloda in us The last loss from the back half of the schedule came in the regular-season finale in 2009, xeloda in us when the Patriots lost at Houston, xeloda in us 34-27 … In a pre-game Twitter message, xeloda in us self-described Patriots fan Donald Trump posted, xeloda in us “Good Luck to Bob Kraft, xeloda in us Tom Brady and Coach Bob Belichick tonight.” Needless to say, xeloda in us the Donald got plenty of unwanted attention for his fumble . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us . Xeloda in us Keep an eye out for Jerod Mayo on Tuesday. Xeloda in us He’ll be joining Subway spokesman Jared Fogle during multiple appearances around town, xeloda in us thanking unassuming fans with a dozen acts of kindness.
Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Xeloda in us Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.