With the Patriots' 41-17 loss at Gillette Stadium today, New England's 21-game home winning streak, and the NFL's longest current home winning streak, came to an end. Before today, the last time the Patriots lost at home was on Dec. 22, 2002 in a 30-17 loss to the New York Jets. Despite today's defeat, the Patriots have recorded a 25-4 (.862) all-time record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason contests. In an interesting similarity, the Patriots' overall winning streak set during the 2003 and 2004 seasons also reached 21 games before it was snapped at Pittsburgh on Oct. 31, 2004.
The 41 points scored by the Chargers today were the most points allowed by a Patriots defense in nearly seven full years, dating back to when New England was handed a 41-10 defeat by the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 8, 1998. Since that time, however, the Patriots have scored at least 41 points against opponents five times, including a 42-15 win over Cleveland and a 41-27 victory over Pittsburgh in last season's AFC Championship Game.
Patrick Pass led all receivers in the game with eight receptions today, setting a new career high. Pass' previous career high was five catches, set against the New York Jets on Dec. 26, 2004 and against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 2, 2005. Pass' eight catches today were for 55 yards, also setting a career best.
San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 134 yards today, marking just the second time in the last 16 regular-season and playoff games that the Patriots have allowed an opponent to top the century mark on the ground. The last player to do it was San Francisco's Kevan Barlow, who racked up 103 yards in the 2004 season finale on Jan. 2, 2005. Tomlinson's 134 yards were the most by a Patriot opponent since Indianapolis' Edgerrin James totaled 144 yards on 30 carries in the 2004 season opener on Sept. 9, 2004.
Corey Dillon scored his team-leading fifth touchdown of the season on a 1-yard run in the first quarter to give the Patriots a 7-3 lead. The touchdown was the 62nd of Dillon's career and his 17th since joining the Patriots prior to the 2004 season. Dillon's 17 touchdown runs in a Patriots uniform ties him with John Stephens for ninth on the team's all-time list. Dillon and Stephens are one score behind Mosi Tatupu, who ranks eighth on the all-time rushing touchdown list with 18 career rushing scores.
THE DWIGHT STUFF
Tim Dwight scored his second touchdown of the season on a 30-yard scoring reception in the second quarter, giving the Patriots a 14-10 lead. Dwight, who joined the Patriots as a free agent prior to the 2005 season after spending four years in San Diego, scored his second touchdown in as many games in Foxborough, having also scored in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 8. Dwight has now grabbed 16 career touchdown passes, and his two receiving scores so far this year are his most since 2002, when he also had two touchdown catches.
Corey Dillon ran for a 29-yard gain on the Patriots' first possession of the game. It was Dillon's longest run since also tearing off a 29-yarder in the 2004 regular-season finale against San Francisco on Jan. 2, 2005. Last season, Dillon had nine runs of 20 yards or more, including four runs of 30 yards or more. He set the Patriots' single-season record with 1,635 yards last season.
KNOTTED AT THE HALF
The Patriots and Chargers were tied at halftime of today's game (17-17). The last time the Patriots lost a game in which they were tied at halftime was also against San Diego, on Sept. 29, 2002. In that game, the teams were tied at 14 at the half, but the Chargers went on to win, 21-14. Since that game (the last meeting between the teams), the Patriots had won six consecutive games in which they were tied at halftime.
HUNDRED YARD RECEIVER LOSS
San Diego's Antonio Gates caught 108 yards worth of passes on six receptions today, but the Patriots lost, 41-17. The last time New England lost a game in which an opponent had a 100-yard receiver was on Oct. 27, 2002. In that game, Denver's Ed McCaffery had 116 yards on eight catches and Denver won, 24-16. Since that game, the Patriots had won 11 consecutive games when an opponent caught 100 yards worth of passes, including two this season.
Adam Vinatieri missed a 37-yard field goal wide right to end the Patriots' first possession of the game. The miss ended Vinatieri's streak of 34 consecutive regular-season field goals of 46 yards or fewer. Prior to today, the last time the two-time Pro Bowler missed a field goal from closer than 46 yards was in the 2003 season finale, missing a 24-yarder in against Buffalo on Dec. 27, 2003.
Both the Patriots and Chargers wore green decals on the back of their helmets today, in recognition of the first NFL game to be played outside of the United States, tonight's 49ers-Cardinals game in Mexico City. The decal, which says "Fútbol Americano," is being worn by each NFL team this week.
BIG TIME BETHEL
Bethel Johnson recorded a 54-yard kickoff return to the San Diego 47-yard line in the second quarter, setting up a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Tim Dwight two plays later. The kickoff return was the seventh return of 50 or more yards in Johnson's 3-year career. The 54-yard return was the longest for the Patriots since Johnson's 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Cleveland on Dec. 4, 2004.
Today's game was the 119th consecutive home sellout for the Patriots, including regular-season, preseason and playoff games. The sellout streak dates back to the 1994 season opener and is now in its 12th season. The streak began on Sept. 11, 1994 - Robert Kraft's first regular-season game as owner of the Patriots. Additionally, today's game is the 247th straight Patriots game to be televised locally. New England fans have not had a blacked-out home game since Dec. 26, 1993 against Indianapolis at Foxboro Stadium.
The Patriots wore their silver jerseys today for the first and only time in the 2005 season. New England donned its silver duds for the fourth time since the alternate uniform made its debut in the 2003 season and suffered its first loss in silver. Silver had served the Patriots well in the past, as New England has won all three previous games in which it has worn silver, including two shutouts. The jerseys made their debut on Nov. 16, 2003 in the Patriots' 12-0 victory over Dallas at Gillette Stadium. They returned the following month in New England's snowy 12-0 AFC East-clinching victory over Miami in Foxborough on Dec. 7, 2003. Last season, the jerseys made their one and only appearance in the Patriots' 35-28 victory over Cincinnati on Dec. 12, 2004 in Foxborough, a win that also clinched the AFC East crown.