By Dave Thomas
Playing against Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on the road is never an easy thing. When you compound that task with making a number of mental errors, success is all but out of the question.
In dropping a 21-13 decision to the Patriots on Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles (3-5) wasted a golden opportunity to win its fourth straight game. The Chargers now head into their bye week thinking about what might have been.
From a muffed punt return that resulted in a safety to a missed field goal, the Chargers had their share of costly mistakes when all was said and done.
On the other side of the ball, New England certainly did not play its best game of the season, yet still came away with its sixth victory of the 2017 campaign.
L.A. now has a week off to think about how the team could have been 4-4, and then they must get ready to face Jacksonville on the road Nov. 12 on the other side of the mid-season break.
Los Angeles Wastes Good Opportunity To Go To 4-4
On a day when starting running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 132 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown, the Chargers did have their rushing game going for a change. Unfortunately, quarterback Philip Rivers (17-of-30, 212 yards, one TD, one interception) could not convert with the game on the line. Down to :01 left in the game, Rivers tried to thread a pass into the end zone to pull out the win, but Jonathan Jones picked off the pass and ended the contest. On the receiving end, Travis Benjamin led the way with 64 yards receiving and one TD.
Overall, the Los Angeles defense kept the team in the game, something that all coaches will simply ask of their defensive units. For the day, Brady threw for 333 yards and a TD, but he and the Patriots had to settle for four Stephen Gostkowski field goals (he also missed a pair) to account for 12 of their points. Leading the Chargers’ defensive push was Adrian Phillips (12 solo tackles), Hayes Pullard III, (12 total tackles) and both Jahleel Addae and Trevor Williams with eight solo stops.
Special Teams: C
In what can only be described as the bonehead play of the day, Los Angeles gave up a safety when Benjamin took a punt and tried to circle back within his own 10-yard line. Despite his efforts, Benjamin was corralled in the end zone for a safety, giving New England a 9-7 lead. While Novak missed on his only field goal attempt of the game, punter Drew Kaser finished with a 45.0 yard average on five punts.
Although head coach Anthony Lynn can’t field punts or kick field goals, doing some of the fundamentals of the game do revert back to the coaching staff. When you add up the muffed punt for a safety, the missed field goal, and a failed two-point conversion, the Chargers left seven point out there for the taking. In close games like this one, that can make all the difference in the world.
Los Angeles heads into its bye week two games under .500. Considering the team started out 0-4, being 3-5 at this point is not the end of the world. Once out of the bye, the Chargers will head to Jacksonville for a Nov. 12 game. From there, it is a short span between games the following week when Los Angeles hosts Buffalo (Nov. 19) and visits Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.