CB Drayton Florence (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
The Bolts greeted the Patriots hoping to end their 17-game winning streak. However, injuries and a middling offense proved to be too unseemly for the Bolts. With the Patriots beating the Chargers for the third time in the last 13 months, here’s a look at what worked and what didn’t for the Bolts.
-With RB Ladainian Tomlinson playing an alien role as a spectator, backup RB Michael Turner took heed of the opportunity. Turner thrust through the Pats defense, running for 65 yards on 17 carries. RB Darren Sproles aided the effort, going for 34 yards on three carries -- an astounding 11.3 yards per carry.
-Antonio Cromartie, Drayton Florence, and Quentin Jammer each swiped one of Tom Brady’s passes. Brady’s three interceptions in a single game is a far cry from the eight picks he threw during the regular season. Notably, Cromartie’s grab shattered Brady’s two-year streak with no red-zone interceptions.
-The same cornerback trio essentially took Randy Moss out of the game. Moss grabbed only one catch for 18 yards. The Patriots ushered Moss to every corner of the field, but the Chargers stayed true to their defensive alignments and let all three corners go one-on-one with the four-time All Pro. The Pats' receivers were held to 11 catches for 97 yards.
-The Chargers held Brady to a 66.4-percent completion rating -- well below the 92.9-percent average he posted last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
-K Nate Kaeding’s consistency proved to be one of the few things in sync...who would have figured? Kaeding nailed all four field goal attempts and was the only Chargers player to put points on the board.
-QB Philip Rivers coped admirably with his knee injury, completing 19 of 37 passes for 211 yards. Although his play may be seen as average, he played under extraordinary circumstances. Just six days before the game, he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to remove loose cartilage in his knee; he played the entire game with no ACL in his right knee.
"It was a gutsy performance," Tomlinson said. "He's a really tough guy. I don't know anybody who can play through that type of pain."
-Rivers found rhythm in the passing game, which was once again anchored by Vincent Jackson (six catches for 93 yards) and WR Chris Chambers (seven catches for 90 yards).
What Didn't Work
-First and foremost, the Chargers needed to trade some of the field goals for touchdowns. With three opportunities in the red zone, none of which converted into a seven points. The last time the Chargers failed to score any touchdowns in a game was Nov. 24, 2002, when they lost 30-3 to the Miami Dolphins.
-Too many injuries popped up on the Chargers’ roster. The banged up Bolts were missing NFL’s leader in rushing yards, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, for almost the entire game. LT started the game despite the knee injury, but managed only two carries for 5 yards before conceding to the sidelines.
"I hurt [the knee] on the first play of the game and I just didn't have it. I didn't have that burst," said L.T.
-The injured list mounted, squashing any hope of breaking the Patriots' 18-game winning streak. TE Antonio Gates’ dislocated big toe took away his annihilating character on the field. He was noticeably slower and was held to two catches for the third consecutive week. With LT and Gates injured, the Chargers lacked both of their go-to player in the red zone.
-Rivers threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the second quarter, with the Patriots turning one of them into a touchdown. Playing against a high-caliber team as the Patriots, any error was bound to be disastrous.
-Nose tackle Jamal Williams re-aggravated a high-ankle sprain, missing large segments of the game.
-The Chargers were unsuccessful in slowing Patriots tailbacks Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk -- the duo combined for 212 yards on 34 touches from scrimmage.
-With the season over for the Chargers, Rivers gears up for another knee surgery.
-The votes are in and LT was named the Chargers’ Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year -- a fact made all the more obvious by the offense's inability to move the ball without him on Sunday. This marks the fifth time Tomlinson has nabbed these accolades.