Refocused: New England Patriots 21, Los Angeles Chargers 13
Unable to stoke the flames following their hot start to the game, the Los Angeles Chargers fell to the New England Patriots in Foxborough on Sunday, 21-13. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon exploded for an 87-yard touchdown run to give Los Angeles a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but his early success didn’t carry into the remaining 45 minutes of play. He averaged just 3.46 yards per carry on his other 13 carries.
Following Gordon’s touchdown run, New England scored 18 consecutive points to lead 18-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Hoping to ignite a comeback, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers connected with wide receiver Travis Benjamin for a 24-yard score early in the fourth quarter. However, another Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a Rivers’ interception ultimately put the game out of reach for the Bolts.
Patriots QB Tom Brady put together a solid performance to help Gostkowski to all four his field goals, as he completed 32-of-47 passes for 333 yards and one touchdown. With that, we give you our PFF exclusive takeaways from the contest for each team.
Top 5 Grades:
Performances of Note:
Brady was very methodical and particular in the areas he targeted against the Chargers. Targets outside, particularly at the deep and intermediate levels, were fleeting. He dominated the middle of the field, nickel and diming the Chargers defense over the middle with short targets in front of the coverage before maximizing his opportunities down the seams, especially to Rob Gronkowski when the space was available. No play better exhibited that than the second-and-20 conversion late in the fourth quarter to get the Patriots back into scoring range just when it looked like the Chargers might get a drive to win rather than tie the game.
RB Rex Burkhead, 80.8 overall grade
Running backs out of the backfield were a feature for the Patriots’ offense with Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis combining for 16 catches, 163 receiving yards and five missed tackles forced. Burkhead led the way in receptions and elusiveness, just edging White by one in terms of missed tackles forced by 3 to 2. Burkhead’s return to the backfield in the last week only adds a further dangerous weapon in the short passing game.
LB Elandon Roberts, 77.6 overall grade
It was a solid game for Roberts, particularly against the run where he tied for the team lead with two stops. He shot the gap and made the tackle for a loss at the 10:24 mark of the first quarter. Then later he was able to sift through the trash to make an impressive third-down stop on third-and-two in the second quarter. Roberts certainly wasn’t perfect, as he got cut down on the backside on a few runs, but overall, he made a positive impact on his 40 snaps.
Edge Trey Flowers, 74.4 overall grade
Like many Patriots defenders, it was a mixed bag for Flowers, who finished with a hit, two hurries, and a batted pass on his 26 pass-rushes. The batted pass came at a key part in the game, as it stopped the Chargers’ drive on third-and-eight with 4:56 to go in the game. Flowers got caught out of position a couple times in the run game, as he wasn’t as disruptive as he normally is in that department
Top 5 Grades:
Performances of Note:
QB Philip Rivers, 77.5 overall grade
Rivers made a number of big throws throughout the afternoon, with his best throw of the day perhaps being the deep crosser on third-and-13 late in the third quarter, though WR Tyrell Williams was unable to haul it in. He also had a well-placed deep ball that cut the lead to five points in the fourth quarter. However, Rivers also missed his fair share, including a number of off-target fourth-quarter throws and his final throw of the day didn’t reach the end zone on the Chargers’ last chance to tie the game. Overall, Rivers finished 7-for-12 for 127 yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards in the air.
G Dan Feeney, 88.4 overall grade
It was an impressive first start for Feeney, who didn’t allow a pressure on 35 attempts while showing well as a run blocker. He generally controlled his man at the line of scrimmage while doing his best work at the second level, where he cut down linebackers with a number of key blocks.
Edge Melvin Ingram, 86.8 overall grade
Ingram was held without a sack this week but he was a persistent nuisance to Brady in the pocket regardless of where he lined up. The Chargers’ top pass-rusher racked up 10 pressures (taking his season total to 45) against four different offensive linemen. Brady’s maneuvering in the pocket meant that Ingram couldn’t get home with a decisive pressure in the game but his ability to work a variety of moves meant Brady had to constantly aware of his presence and consistently adjust in the pocket throughout the game.
CB Desmond King, 87.3 overall grade
King continued his fine rookie season in the slot, showing his ability to play in all three phases of the defense. King recorded his first sack of his career, cleaning up as Brady climbed through the pocket. He added another pressure and four stops to boot. King didn’t let his standards drop in coverage, either surrendering just 12 yards on three targets while adding his second pass breakup of the season. King hasn’t allowed 50 yards in a single game since Week 4.
PFF Game Ball: Tom Brady, QB
*Grades are subject to change upon review