Brady Picks Apart Chargers, Patriots Head To Eighth Straight AFC Championship Game
Tell me if you have heard this one before, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are headed to the AFC Championship Game. It is a phrase you have heard for the past seven years and now you will hear it for an eighth as the Patriots steamrolled over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. The win earned Brady and the Pats their eighth consecutive trip to the conference title game, the last time they missed it was 2010 when the New York Jets pulled off the upset in Foxborough with Mark Sanchez as their quarterback. But ever since then it has been all Patriots and yet again they showed the rest of the league they are still a team to be feared despite a 41-year-old quarterback in Brady.
New England wasted no time getting on the scoreboard first as Brady completed the first five passes he attempted and Sony Michel finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Patriots up early. However, Philip Rivers and the Chargers would respond as Rivers hit Keenan Allen with a 43-yard touchdown pass after Allen used a little inside fake to shake free of cornerback Stephon Gilmore. But after that it was all Patriots for the rest of the first half as the defense continuously forced Los Angeles to punt while the offense got a 14-yard touchdown run by Sony Michel, 15-yard touchdown pass from Brady to receiver Phillip Dorsett, and six-yard touchdown run by Rex Burkhead to put New England in front 28-7. Finally, the Charger defense forced the Patriots to punt towards the end of the half and it was muffed by Desmond King before Albert McClellan recovered the ball for New England. Making the most of their field position, the Patriots marched into the end zone on four plays as Sony Michel got his third rushing touchdown of the half to put New England up by 28 going into the break.
At that point, it was pretty much smooth sailing the rest of the way for the New England Patriots as the deficit the Chargers were in forced them to obviously abandon the run game and score quickly. Los Angeles started the half by going three and out before allowing the Patriots to march down the field and kick a 28-yard field goal to extend their lead. Then Philip Rivers finally led the offense to a five-minute scoring drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon to cut New England's lead to 38-14. Shortly after the start of the fourth, Stephen Gostkowski added another field goal, this time from 30 yards out, to give the Patriots a 41-14 lead.
The rest of the fourth quarter played out pretty quietly as Rivers led the Chargers down field for a pair of scoring drives in garbage time to narrow the deficit of defeat to just 13 points. Those two drives lasted about two minutes apiece and were capped off with Rivers hitting Virgil Green and Antonio Gates for short touchdown passes. When it was all set and done, Tom Brady finished 34-of-44 with 343 passing yards and a touchdown pass. The Patriots' rushing attack totaled up 155 rushing yards with 129 of those yards coming from Sony Michel who finished the day with three rushing touchdowns. On the other side, Philip Rivers went 25-for-51 with 331 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the second half. Los Angeles's ground game was nonexistent considering how they fell down so early which led to Melvin Gordon and Justin Jackson combining for 19 total rushing yards and a touchdown. The win means New England will face the Kansas City Chiefs in a regular season rematch that the Patriots came away victorious by a final score of 43-40.
Patriots 41, Chargers 28
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