Chargers Win Streak Ends in New England

Patriots control clock, game in win

If you want to beat the defending champion New England Patriots on their turf it’s a good idea to turn in a few big plays. It’s also a good idea to make sure those big plays help your team.

The Bolts hit a couple of big ones but also had a mishap for the ages on special teams that helped New England pull out an uninspiring 21-13 win at Gillette Stadium.

On their opening drive the Chargers tried a couple of new twists. Melvin Gordon lined up at quarterback in what’s commonly referred to as a “Wildcat” formation and ran for five yards. The Bolts even added a sweep to speedster Travis Benjamin for seven yards. But the drive stalled and Nick Novak’s 51-yard field goal try was tipped just enough to cause it to float short and right.

After forcing a 3-and-out the Chargers got the ball back and running back Melvin Gordon got the scoring started with an 87-yard TD run, the longest of his career. While the Chargers hit on the big play the Patriots preferred a more methodical means of scoring.

Quarterback Tom Brady led a 14-play, 77-yard drive that ended with him throwing a 2-yard TD pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski to tie the game 7-7. Then the Bolts made a bonehead move for the ages.

A week ago Benjamin turned the game in the Chargers’ favor with a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. In the 2nd quarter against the Patriots he found the end zone again, except this time it was the wrong one. Benjamin muffed a punt at his own 8-yard-line, scooped it up and inexplicably ran backwards into his own end zone where he was tackled for a safety. It was quite possibly one of the Top-5 worst special teams plays in the history of professional football and it gave New England a 9-7 lead.

On their next five possessions the Patriots kicked three field goals and missed two more, both of them from 43 yards out, to build an 18-7 lead because the Chargers offense could not get out of its own way.

Tyrell Williams caught a touchdown pass but stepped out of bounds first so it was a case of illegal touching and the touchdown didn’t count. Travis Benjamin caught a 41-yard touchdown pass but it was called back because of a pass interference call on Williams.

Then quarterback Philip Rivers was forced out of the pocket. He tried to set his feet and throw and the ball just squirted out of his hands. He jumped on it to avoid a turnover but it was a 20-yard loss that knocked them out of field goal range.

The Chargers finally got back in the end zone in the 4th quarter when Rivers hit Benjamin for a 24-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion try failed, making it an 18-13 game.

The teams traded punts and then the Patriots took the ball with about 4:41 left to play. They were able to run most of that off the clock while forcing the Chargers to use all three of their time outs. Stephen Gostkowski made a 26-yard field goal to put the Pats up 21-13 with 1:10 to play.

Needing a TD and a 2-point conversion to tie the Bolts started at their own 21-yard-line Rivers made it interesting. He hit Benjamin for a pair of 15-yard completions and moved the Bolts to the New England 23 with one second to play. On the final snap of the game Rivers was picked off by Jonathan Jones on the goal line to seal the Pats win.

The Chargers hit their bye week with a 3-5 record.

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