The Los Angeles Chargers will head into their bye week 3-5 after losing in Foxboro to the New England Patriots in a game that was defined by three things:
- An 87-yard touchdown run for Melvin Gordon in the 1st quarter, after which he was ineffective.
- An insane gaffe from Travis Benjamin, who ran back into his own end zone during a punt return and was tackled for a safety.
- Tom Brady’s ability to wiggle away from the Chargers’ pass rush most of the time.
That’s it! There were no turnovers until the final play. The Patriots plodded down the field using 3-5 yard passes to RBs, mostly. Philip Rivers was fine, and made some great throws, but certainly wasn’t dominant. All in all, this game was rather boring. Like walking the path to an eventuality.
Let’s get to my game notes...
The Chargers kicked off the game with one of the most beautiful offensive drives I’ve seen in awhile. Unfortunately, it ended around midfield after a Michael Schofield false start and two runs for a total of -2 yards. Facing a 4th & 1 on the Patriots’ 33, Anthony Lynn decided to kick a FG instead of go for it, and Nick Novak wasn’t able to reach the uprights.
Luckily for everyone, Los Angeles’ defense then put the clamps on the Patriots. Forcing a 3 & out, and Melvin Gordon ran for an 87 yard touchdown when the Chargers got the ball back.
Tom Brady, being Tom Brady, answered Gordon’s long run with a 14-play, 6+ minute drive that went for almost 80 yards and finished with a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. We’re all tied up!
I’m not sure why, but Branden Oliver appears to be getting the snaps that have normally been reserved for Austin Ekeler. Ekeler has been amazing this year, which makes you wonder what he did to get demoted down the depth chart.
Making history. @jbbigbear now has the most sacks by any player in NFL history over his first 20 games. #LACvsNE pic.twitter.com/ynBurjD0Ua— #LACvsNE (@Chargers) October 29, 2017
Yeah, Joey Bosa did that. And he killed a good Patriots’ drive along the way. Unfortunately, it was for naught, because Travis Benjamin caught a punt on the Chargers’ 12 yard line and ran it backwards into his own end zone for a safety.
There’s your AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, turning poor field position into a lost possession and easy points for the opposing team. This is why Travis Benjamin should not be returning punts.
The Patriots took Benjamin’s gift and quickly went down the field, picking up 3 more points on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
After another bad decision on 3rd & 1 (a shotgun pass to double-covered Tyrell Williams), the Chargers punted it back to the Patriots, who tacked in 3 more and went into the locker room up 8 at halftime. 15-7.
The Chargers special team kicks off the half by allowing a 71-yard kick return, but the pass rush is ferocious and the drive ends with a missed Gostkowski FG attempt. Whew.
Melvin Gordon looks hobbled after coming up limping in the first half, which means the offense needs to catch up using the arm of Philip Rivers. Rivers quickly fumbles the ball backwards 20 yards and throws into quintuple cover to rookie WR Mike Williams and is lucky enough to see the punt team on the next play.
Brady once again drives his team down the field using a collection of slippery moves in the pocket and check-down passes to TEs and RBs, and New England adds a field goal (score: 18-7) after Desmond King gives Brady the business on second down.
wait, they actually let a dirty play go on Brady? pic.twitter.com/wt4fhjP2YC— Mike Tunison (@xmasape) October 29, 2017
This game has slowed down into a defensive struggle, with no offense really able to do anything but get called for penalties.
Another long drive made up of short passes ends with a Patriots’ field goal attempt, and this one is no good. Still, New England is up by 11 and have just about doubled Los Angeles’ time of possession.
The Patriots have stopped blitzing and, with a clean pocket, Philip Rivers is making some gorgeous throws. One of them turns into a 24-yard TD pass to Travis Benjamin, who is still trying to make up for his punt return blunder earlier. The Chargers go for two, trying to get within 3 points, and Rivers’ pass is nowhere near his receiver. They’ll need to find the end zone again.
The Chargers pass/run ratio looks very balanced, but it was mostly runs early and has turned into mostly passes late.
The #Patriots have had FOUR drives of 5:30 or more today. They just got the ball, with the lead, and 4:41 left in the 4th.— John Gennaro (@johnmgennaro) October 29, 2017
The Patriots settle for a field goal and an 8 point lead with about one minute left and the Chargers without any timeouts. This one is over.
The Chargers’ took what the Patriots gave them, which is the middle of the field, and ended up wasting a large portion of the remaining time during their final drive.