Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson were too much for the Patriots defense in this one. Rivers was 18 of 27 for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns while Jackson set a personal best with 5 catches, 134 yards and a score.
Meanwhile, Matt Cassel and the New England offense was unable to find the end zone until the game was long over. Cassel had only the short passing game to work with, finishing with 194 yards passing on 38 attempts. The few times he looked for Moss downfield all came up empty and with Laurence Maroney and Lamont Jordan gametime scratches, there wasn't much for Cassel to work with.
]()Perhaps the biggest disappointment for New England was its defensive backfield play. While the front seven did a decent job against the run, Rivers was successful looking deep early and that helped his team to an early lead. San Diego never looked back.
Rivers went deep on the opening play of the game and connected with Jackson for 48 yards down to the Patriots 32. In coverage was Deltha O'Neal, someone the Chargers were familiar with from his Denver days. Despite that play, and the Chargers being first and goal from the 7, all San Diego could muster was three points on a Nate Kaeding 25-yard field goal. Rivers threw incomplete on three straight tries, including an Antonio Gates drop in front of the goal line to force the kick.
The Patriots took over on offense and got down to the Chargers 31 with underneath passes and a couple Sammy Morris runs for 7 yards each. Stephen Gostkowski came on for a 48-yard attempt and missed for the first time this season to leave the score at 3-0.
Once again Rivers looked deep on his next possession. Four plays into the drive he sent Malcolm Floyd on a post pattern from the Patriots 49 and Floyd got a step on O'Neal for the touchdown to make the score 10-0 with just under four minutes still left in the first quarter.
It wasn't just points that were piling up on the Patriots. After the Patriots went three and out on their next series, Nick Kaczur had to be helped off the field. He was the third Patriot who left the field with an injury along with Jarvis Green on the Chargers' first drive and Ellis Hobbs on the their second. Hobbs returned later in the first quarter.
New England escaped being down 13-0 when Kaeding missed a 44-yard attempt with less than a minute left in the first quarter and the Patriots took over at their 34. Playing conservative football, New England called plays around the line of scrimmage and the Chargers were on top of them. The first positive for New England came from Chris Hanson's punt from his 47 that Brandon Meriweather downed at the 3.
A defensive stand here and New England could get a bit of the momentum back. On third and 3 from the 10, Rivers looked downfield to Jackson but Hobbs had excellent coverage and broke up the play. After the Scifres punt the Patriots had the ball right back at the San Diego 43.
]()This time, New England managed to get on the the board with a 47-yard field goal. Cassel nearly had Moss down the right sideline on third and 8 from the 29 but Moss couldn't quite get the handle on the ball and Gostkowski came on for the field goal to make the score 10-3 with 7:13 left in the half.
At the two minute warning, the Chargers had the ball second and 8 at the Patriots 29. When play resumed, Rivers looked to Floyd and found him along the right sideline for 17 yards down to the 12. After an 8-yard run by Tomlinson, Rivers hit Jackson over the middle for the touchdown and a 14-point cushion heading into the second half.
It was the pass that was killing New England through 30 minutes. While Tomlinson was being held to 33 yards on 10 carries, Rivers was 12 of 19 passing for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns.
New England had a chance to cut the lead in half right off the bat in the third quarter. Cassel got down to the Chargers 1 with this arm and his legs, running for 9 yards and then 3 to convert a third and 2. Morris chipped in with a great individual effort on a short catch that he bulled his way forward for a 28-yard gain. But with four cracks at the 1, the Patriots were unable to get in the end zone and the Chargers took over on downs.
That sequence proved to be a killer for New England.
Rivers got the ball back and once again exploited the Patriots secondary as Jackson simply outran Terrence Wheatley for a 59-yard bomb. Then it was Jackson again, drawing a pass interference on Hobbs in the end zone to make it first and goal from the 1. On the next play Rivers found Gates wide open for the score.
Having already been sacked four times and now down 24-3, Cassel was in a tough spot. On his next play from scrimmage with a Charger in his face, he threw right to San Diego's Quentin Jammer who made the pick and was tackled at the Patriots 26. That led to another Kaeding field goal to make it 27-3 with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter opened with the Chargers driving again. Gates had caught a 22-yard pass and Tomlinson had run for 27 yards to the Patriots 27 where San Diego was first and 10. Despite the Chargers eventually getting down to the 5 and first and goal after Warren was flagged for a personal foul, New England got off with only allowing three more points.
But at 30-3 with 10:50 left to play, this one had been in the books for a while.
The Patriots finally did find the end zone with 5:18 left to play, a 1-yard Morris run. The scoring drive went 46 yards on eight plays with Kevin Faulk accounting for four of the plays and 29 yards.
With the loss, New England drops to 3-2 after splitting its West Coast swing. It's now back to Foxborough to prepare for a Monday night game with the Denver Broncos.