Although some forecasts in the week leading up to Sunday expected snow (with some as much as five inches), that no longer was the case as of Sunday morning. Cold, about 26 degrees at kickoff, but no snow.
Patriots win the coin toss and elected to receive the kick. Opening kickoff by newly signed Nick Rose goes off the hands of the returner and out of bounds. Patriots start the drive on the 22. Swing pass to James White to start the game off, which is a theme most expected to see entering the game, gain of eight. Defense comes out with a linebacker on the field in the first drive on second down. Third down pass to Julian Edelman for a first down. Seven DB look quite a bit here early on. Another third down conversion, quick throw to a James White who lined up out wide. Shovel pass to James White gains 17, Adrian Phillips stays down on the field after the play. Phillips is able to walk off, though favoring his left arm. Another big chunk play, run of twelve off right side by Sony Michel. Jahleel Addae breaks up a pass to make it third and five. James White converts yet again as the Patriots enter the red zone. Third down and six, pass is incomplete to the end zone but there’s a flag on the play... pass interference on Casey Hayward. Sony Michel finds the wide open lane for a one yard touchdown on a drive that took almost half of the first quarter. The Chargers only had ten players on the field. PAT is good, Patriots up 7-0.
Short kick by Stephen Gostkowski, Chargers will start their opening drive on the thirty three. Hunter Henry on the field to start the drive. Deep shot to Mike Williams and can’t haul it in, looks like he closed his hands too early. Was a great pass, missed opportunity. Third and ten and the offense can’t get the snap off in time, delay of game. Third and 15, Mike Williams catches this one, converts for a first down but stays down after the play. Mike Williams back in the game after missing one play. Melvin Gordon rushes for eight yards and a first down off the left side. Deep shot to a WIDE OPEN Keenan Allen. There wasn’t anyone within ten yards of him. Keenan faked inside and Stephon Gilmore bit hard. Rivers did a great job of climbing the pocket and allowing his guy to get open. Tied game, 7-7.
Nick Rose’ kickoff only reaches the ten yard line. Patriots start drive on the thirty three. Adrian Phillips returns to the field on first down. Sony Michel run for twelve on second down, another wide open running lane. Jahleel Addae reads and attacks the swing pass to James White for a loss of three on first down. Hayward unable to secure the tackle and Edelman converts for a first down. Wide open Edelman for 28 yards and in to the red zone. Sony Michel caps off the drive with a 14 yard rush off the right side. Patriots up 14-7.
Quick three and out for the Chargers after a rush for no gain, a hurried pass that was too far for Mike Williams and Rivers is forced out of the pocket to just dump it off out of harms way.
Patriots get the ball on their own 42 after the Donnie Jones punt. First down pass is deflected by Melvin Ingram but no one is there to come down with it. Quarter comes to an end with Julian Edelman getting the first down and crossing the 50.
End of the first quarter, Patriots up 14-7
Patriots start the quarter with another chunk play to Edelman, gain of 17. Patriots offense is firing on all cylinders so far in this game, this drive included. False start on third and one, bringing up third and six from the 15. Phillip Dorsett gets open and Tom Brady finds him for another score. Patriots now up 21-7 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the half.
After a touchback, Chargers come out with a swing pass to Melvin Gordon and get a quick first down, followed up with an eight yard run. Another deep attempt to Mike Williams but he’s covered and the pass fell short. Offense can’t get the ball snapped on third down, delay of game, making it third and seven. Pass is high but Mike Williams makes an incredible catch to convert and keep the drive alive. Third and ten, pass to Antonio Gates is incomplete.
Patriots start the drive off right where they left off, another chunk play with a screen to James White. Third and two, Patriots test Michael Davis deep down the right side. Incomplete, but there’s a flag on the play. Holding on Desmond King, automatic first down. Next play Sony Michel breaks a long run for 40 yards and in to the Chargers red zone again. Rex Burkhead finishes off the drive with six yard run. Patriots up 28-7 with six minutes left until halftime, a halftime the Chargers desperately need at this point.
Rivers finds Tyrell Williams running open across the field for a gain of 26 yards to start off the drive. As has been a trend all season, a big chunk play is followed by a run up the middle for no gain. Another deep shot to Tyrell Williams but it’s thrown short but he turns defender and knocks it away from Gilmore. Chargers unable to convert on third on ten, punt the ball back to the Patriots with just over four minutes left.
After a quick three and out, the Patriots punted for the first time all game. Desmond King loses handle of the kick and the Patriots recover just before going out of bounds. After a quick change, the Patriots gain another chunk play with Edelman across the middle, enter the red zone for what seems like the 20th time this half. Sony Michel finds pay dirt, his third of the half. Patriots now dominating, 35-7.
On first down Rivers gets pressured up the middle and takes a ten yard sack. On third and ten Mike Williams gets abused by JC Jackson but no flag is thrown. Three and out with one minute remaining. Patriots using timeouts and driving, looking to add points before the end of the half. Wide Receiver can’t get out of bounds and the clock runs out.
Halftime, Patriots up 35-7
Chargers start the half from their own 31 after a solid return from Desmond King. First pass is too high above Keenan’s head. Free rusher allowed up the middle on second down, Rivers throws the pass away. On third and ten they go with a two yard pass to Tyrell Williams, three and out. Definitely not the way to start a half if you want to get back in this game.
As pointed out by the broadcast, the Chargers have been unable to get any pressure on Tom Brady the entire game. That would need to change should the Chargers want to change the flow of this game. Third and four is converted by Rob Gronkowski while he runs over Rayshawn Jenkins after the catch and enters Chargers’ territory. Another third down conversion, this time third and one with a rush up the gut by Pat Develin. Melvin Ingram finally gets to Brady, but he gets the pass off and it falls incomplete. King with the great tackle on third down to force a fourth down. Patriots go for it and and convert, inside the Chargers ten now. Chargers force another fourth down, this time the Patriots settle for a field goal try, which is good. Patriots now up 38-7 with just over 6 left in the third.
After a throwaway on first down, the Chargers get an automatic first down on a roughing the passer flag on Trey Flowers for going low against Philip Rivers. 20 yard pass across the middle to Mike Williams on the next play. Three consecutive passes now to Mike Williams. Patriots challenge that he fumbled on the third catch, which it appears he did but he recovered it anyway, so a puzzling decision to say the least. Chargers get a new set of downs thanks to holding by Gilmore on a third down incompletion. Beautiful pass deep left to Tyrell Williams, pushed out inside the one, first & goal. Gordon with the easy dive for a score, Chargers now down 38-14.
End of the third quarter, Patriots up 38-14
Patriots aren’t comfortable with the lead they already have, as they start out the fourth quarter with a 35 yard pass to Edelman, nearing the Chargers redzone already. Big gain on the ground by Cordarrelle Patterson negated by holding call, creating a first and 20 situation. Patriots convert immediately with a dump off to James White. Derwin James gets pressure off the edge, which would have been nice in the first quarter, but here we are. Screen pass to Edelman is read well by King, but because he was looking for the tackle he missed the ball, which bounced right off of him. Would have been an easy pick six. Patriots convert a field goal, taking a 41-14 lead.
First play of the drive is an ugly one; holding by Dan Feeney and a throw in the dirt by Rivers who just looks beyond done with this game. Next pass is over the head of Keenan Allen. Rivers got his hard on the play and gets up clearly favoring his lower extremities. Awful pass on second down, short to Hunter Henry and it should have been picked, but Kyle Van Noy couldn’t come down with it. Pass to Tyrell Williams, who was bracketed by two defenders, is behind and incomplete. Donnie Jones was hit on the punt, running in to the kicker and as it wouldn’t be a first down, penalty is declined. Patriots ball on their own 43.
Patriots come out seemingly wanting to run the clock out at this point. Three straight rushes lead to a fourth and one. Patriots send out the punting team, Chargers take over on their own 25 after a touchback and less than ten minutes left.
Rivers starts the drive with a deep shot to Tyrell Williams across the middle for 29 yards, complete. Short pass to Justin Jackson is dropped but didn’t look like he had much if he did complete it. Pass Interference by JC Jackson after a short incompletion. Rivers under a ton of pressure on second down but gets the ball out to Jackson again for a minimal gain. Chargers seem to be doing their part in running the clock out. Pass deep down the middle is perfect to Keenan Allen but is ruled incomplete after the ball came out when he went to the ground. Call is challenged and overturned, pass complete and down at the one. Rivers appears to be in a very large amount of pain right now. He went down on the previous play, looked like he tripped. Melvin Ingram in at fullback, because why not. Touchdown pass to Virgil Green. Two point conversion complete to Allen. Chargers now down 41-22, 7:38 left to play.
Onside kick attempt fails, Patriots take over across midfield. Runs up the middle and short passing is the name of the game at this point for the Patriots who are just looking to get this over with. Chargers blow up the third and five play, forcing a punt with more than five minutes remaining. Patriots down the punt on the two.
Chargers get behind the down and distance immediately, but convert on third down with a 12 yard pass to Antonio Gates. Third down pass to Keenan Allen is intercepted by Stephon Gilmore, all but shutting down any dream the Chargers had of coming back.
Patriots doing their best to run the clock, while the Chargers start to use their timeouts to cling on to as much of the clock as possible. Patriots forced to punt with 3 minutes still to go. Everything just looks off with the Chargers offense, everyone looks like they just want to hit the locker rooms and get out of here. Deep shot to Travis Benjamin, between three defenders, falls incomplete. Fourth down pass to Gates gets the first. Tyrell with the completion across the middle for a first down, 19 yards. Big gain by Justin Jackson on the left side, 20 yards. After an interesting exchange between Rivers and the officials, the Patriots get a roughing the passer flag for hitting Rivers’ helmet. Touchdown pass to Antonio Gates, 8 yards. Two point conversion is no good. 41-28 Patriots.
Onside kick attempt is again no good, Patriots come out to finish this thing up with a couple of kneel downs. Patriots win 41-28.
The Chargers weren’t able to get it done today in Foxborough, but they certainly had an incredible season. That doesn’t make this lose any easier to take for Charger fans, but there’s plenty to like about this team going forward.
On to draft season, folks.