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Brady throws three TDs in Pats' rout of Chargers

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots proved they don't need to spy to win. A few brilliant offseason acquisitions are more than enough.

The Patriots routed the San Diego Chargers 38-14 Sunday night as Tom Brady threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns and got three TDs from players picked up last spring: Randy Moss with two receptions and Adalius Thomas, with a 65-yard interception return.

The victory came three days after the NFL fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000, the team another $250,000 and took away what is almost sure to be a first-round draft choice.

"At times it was challenging but they stayed focused," Belichick said of his players, alluding to a week in which almost every question involved the confiscation of a spy camera during last week's win over the Jets.

He also thanked the fans who cheered him when he walked on the field -- uncharacteristically, he waved to them in acknowledgment. And he thanked owner Robert Kraft, who was critical of him in remarks made at halftime during a television interview.

"I want to thank the fans for their support," he said. "I definitely felt that from the time I walked on the field. We've got great fans and we've got a great owner. He's been awesome all week in a tough situation."

The way the Patriots played Sunday night, they didn't need Belichick's spying against a San Diego team that finished 14-2 last season but lost to New England 24-21 in its first playoff game.

It was the players he brought in during the offseason -- Thomas, Moss and Wes Welker - who combined with Brady and linebacker Rosevelt Colvin to completely dominate a team that figures to be among their main competitors in the AFC.

Moss, who had nine catches for 183 yards and a touchdown in an identical 38-14 win over the Jets last week, had eight more for 105 yards and 23- and 24-yard TD catches. Welker had eight catches for 91 yards, including a 34-yarder on the first drive of the game that set up Brady's 7-yard TD pass to Benjamin Watson and got the Patriots (2-0) off to a quick start.

Colvin, signed as a free agent in 2003, had two sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles to help lead a defense that held LaDainian Tomlinson to 43 yards on 18 carries. He and Mike Vrabel, one of the longest-serving Patriots, combined for two straight sacks in the fourth quarter as the Chargers were threatening to get back in the game.

"That was a key stop," Belichick said of the series, when the Patriots could have closed within 10 points. "We got negative yardage, took them out of even field-goal range and got our energy back."

Philip Rivers threw for just 63 yards and had two interceptions in the first half. One of those was the romp by Thomas who grabbed a toss in the flat and raced untouched down the left sideline.

Trailing 24-0 at halftime, San Diego (1-1) took the opening kickoff of the second half and moved 72 yards on 16 plays to score on a 1-yard pass from Rivers to fullback Lorenzo Neal.

However, Brady, who completed 25-of-31 passes, drove New England right back down the field, capping the drive with his second TD pass to Moss and putting the former Minnesota and Oakland receiver over the 100-yard mark for the second time in two games as a Patriot. Moss didn't play a down in the exhibition season.

Rivers threw a 12-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates 12 seconds into the fourth quarter and finished 19-of-30 for 179 yards. Ellis Hobbs, who had a 108-yard return for a touchdown last week, fumbled the ensuing kickoff.

Vrabel sacked Rivers for a 10-yard loss on the first play and Colvin pushed them back 10 more yards on the next play, and the Chargers had to punt.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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