FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A week after totaling just one catch for 10 yards, Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was an offensive focal point in Monday night's blowout 42-14 victory over the Houston Texans, finishing with seven catches for 89 yards and a 37-yard score to extend his team's lead to 14-0 early in the contest.
After the game, the veteran wideout wasn't interested in reveling in his personal success or going to bat against those who suggested he was being phased out of the offense.
Instead, he deferred individual praise, opting to laud the efforts of his entire team in practice in the week leading up to the victory.
"Like I said earlier, we had a really good week of practice," Lloyd said. "And we've got to keep doing that. We've got to keep having practice weeks where we can go into the game with a lot of confidence like we did this week."
Talk of a regression for Lloyd was largely unfounded, as a quiet week versus the Dolphins last Sunday was as much about the game plan (Lloyd was targeted just once) as anything else. Asked whether he could sense if he would be more involved this week, Lloyd said flatly, "No."
But more involved he was, as he twice found the end zone (once on a fluke fumble recovery that saved the bacon of teammate Danny Woodhead) and provided a field-stretching impact on his first-quarter receiving score.
It was the kind of downfield passing threat many believed the Patriots had found in Lloyd when they signed him to a three-year contract as a free agent this offseason. The play was Lloyd's longest catch this season, and one that he said was dialed up at just the right time.
"That was definitely a scheme play, and we worked hard on that all week," Lloyd said. "And when the opportunity presented itself, coach [Josh] McDaniels called it at the right time and we were able to take advantage of it."
The play not only served as a reminder of an element that Lloyd brings to the Patriots offense, which changes by the week, but also that the trust between him and quarterback Tom Brady had not faded.
"I have a ton of confidence in him," Brady said. "I'm not worried about that -- going over the middle. He made some other big plays, one on the pass interference that got called back. He made another big play coming across the middle. I have a lot of confidence in Brandon. He did a great job."
After totaling 57 targets in his first six games as a Patriot, Lloyd was targeted just 31 times in the six games leading up to Monday night's showdown with the Texans. That stretch of time coincided with a knee injury that has left Lloyd limited in practice.
As Lloyd’s production dipped, the chorus of doubters grew, though Lloyd refused to let the critics tear him down.
It was similar to the experience fellow receiver Wes Welker shared at the start of the season, a memory as distant as the Patriots’ early-season struggles.
On a team that continues to set the bar for excellence and consistency in the NFL, there always seems to be a player (or sometimes even a coach) who is the target of criticism.
Call it the flavor of the week.
Lloyd was the flavor of the week in Week 13, despite the team clinching its fourth consecutive AFC East crown and running its winning streak to six games.
On Monday night, Lloyd was arguably the best receiver on the field in a game that also featured two likely Hall of Famers in Welker and Texans wideout Andre Johnson.
After the game, Lloyd looked back upon the performance in the same way he had in the weeks that preceded it: team over self.
Asked whether he was having fun, Lloyd stated simply, “As long as we’re winning.”
Thanks in part to Lloyd’s efforts, the Patriots continued to do exactly that.