The Chargers heard all week about Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, and when it was all said and done, they still couldn’t stop them as the Pats moved to 2-0 with a 35-21 win to drop the Chargers to 1-1.
Brady completed at least one throw to seven different receivers, going for 423 yards with his favorite target being WR Deion Branch, who had 129 yards on eight grabs. TE Rob Gronkowski caught four balls for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Mistakes killed the Bolts, as two interceptions of Philip Rivers and a huge stop on the one-yard line stopped possible points from being scored. The Chargers also had crucial fourth-quarter fumbles by both the quarterback and running back Mike Tolbert.
Overall, it was the Chargers 10th lossin their last 11 visits to New England, including an AFC Championship Game.
Pats RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis gained 70 yards on 17 carries, who have yet to lose a home opener at Gillette Stadium. The facility opened prior to the 2002 season.
The Chargers turned the ball over inside the Patriots 35-yard line three times, leading to 17 points. San Diego was also stuffed on a fourth-and-goal at the 1, and the Patriots started a 99-yard drive that ended with one of Brady’s two scoring passes to TE Rob Gronkowski.
Rivers threw for 378 yards for the Chargers. They had four turnovers for the second straight year against New England after losing 23-20 in 2010 when the Patriots gained just 179 yards. Vincent Jackson had 172 yards and two touchdowns on 10 receptions for the Chargers.
The turning point of the game took place late in the first half when Vince Wilfork, the Patriots’ 325-pound defensive tackle, got his first career interception to halt a promising Chargers drive, rumbling 28 yards on the return.
The turnover set up a 47-yard field goal by Gostkowski on the last play of the first half, putting the Patriots on top 20-7, and they cruised from there.
After neither team scored in the third, the Chargers made it 20-14 on a 3-yard scoring pass from Rivers to Jackson with 13:33 left.
Then the Patriots made a curious—and potentially costly—decision on fourth-and-4 at the San Diego 49. Rather than have Zoltan Mesko, who hurt his knee on his previous punt, kick the ball, the Patriots went for a first down and failed on Brady’s incomplete pass to Deion Branch.
But just three plays later, New England’s defense came through when Mayo forced a fumble and linebacker Rob Ninkovich recovered at the Patriots 39. Brady needed just four plays to cover 69 yards and throw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski. Danny Woodhead ran in for the 2-point conversion and a 28-14 lead.
The Chargers came back, scoring just three minutes later on Rivers’ 26-yard pass to Jackson with 5:40 to go. But the Patriots responded with a 16-yard touchdown run by Green-Ellis.
Next week San Diego hosts the Kansas City Chiefs, who are 0-2 and have been outscored 89-10 in their first two losses, and Sunday in a loss to the Lions lost RB Jamaal Charles for the rest of the year with a torn ACL.