Chargers 7-21 Patriots, 9:12, 2nd quarter
Chargers at their own 49. Gordon gets wrapped up for no gain. 2nd & 10. Rivers throws under pressure to avoid a sack. 3rd & 10. The Gillette crowd gets loud. Rivers throws to Antonio Gates, but McCourty bats it away. The Chargers have to punt again. That’s not ideal.
Edelman makes a fair catch of the punt at the New England 13.
Chargers 7-21 Patriots, 10:14, 2nd quarter
3rd & 2. Big play here for both sides. Rivers decides to throw long… but it’s a free play. There’s a flag on the play, it’s a delay of game on the offense (surprisingly). That’s a five yard penalty which gives the Patriots defense a tad more breathing room. On 3rd and 7, Rivers finds Williams and… they complete it anyways, nice catch in heavy traffic.
Chargers 7-21 Patriots, 10:55, 2nd quarter
Rivers finds Gordon for a first down. He gets to about the 36. 1st & 10. Gordon gets a carry and picks up 8. This is a good start, they’re at their own 44 already. 2nd & 2…. Rivers airs it out to Williams and that’s incomplete.
Chargers 7-21 Patriots, 12:17, 2nd quarter
The Chargers offense can make up large deficits quick but… They should try to start that now rather than later. Gostkowski’s kick goes to the end zone for a touchdown, they’ll start at their own 25.
Okay my expert analysis is that the Chargers defense needs to play better.
Chargers 7-21 Patriots, 12:17, 2nd quarter
On 2nd & 6, Brady finds Hogan who gets taken down just short of a 1st down. On 3rd & 1, Brady hands off to Michel. But it’s a false start for the firsts penalty on the Patriots. That will make it 3rd & 6. No matter, Brady finds Dorsett for their third touchdown of the game. That’s one on every drive.
And the extra point is good.
Chargers 7-14 Patriots, 13:49, 2nd quarter
On 2nd & 10, Brady finds Phillip Dorsett for the first time of the game and he picks up a first down that brings the Patriots to the Chargers 19. On the next play, Brady hands off to Michel who picks up 4 yards.
Chargers 7-14 Patriots, 15:00, 2nd quarter
Brady finds Edelman again, that’s a 17 yard gain that takes the Patriots to the Chargers 30. That moves him to second on the all-time postseason receptions list.
Chargers 7-14 Patriots, end of the 1st quarter
On 1st & 10, Brady’s pass is tipped by Melvin Ingram, but it falls incomplete. Brady throws to Edelman and that’s another first down conversion as the first quarter comes to an end.
Chargers 7-14 Patriots, :42, 1st quarter
Edelman fields the punt and carries it 6 yards to the New England 36 and we have a brief commercial break.
Chargers 7-14 Patriots, :42, 1st quarter
Prop bet: when are we gonna see our first punt? It won’t be here, the kickoff goes to Desmond King who gets to the Chargers 25. On 1st & 10, Gordon picks up a yard. 2nd & 9. Rivers throws long again and… it falls into no man’s land. 3rd & 9, the Pats defense gets on Rivers who scrambles and throws it away. I guess now we’ll see our first punt.
Random note: I refuse to believe “God Friended Me” is a real show.
Chargers 7-14 Patriots, 1:42, 1st quarter
Michel picks up 2 yards on first down. He’s getting a lot of carries. On 2nd & 8, Brady finds Edelman again who gets it all the way to the Chargers 14. That’s a 28 yard gain! On the very next play, Michel runs it all the way into the end zone. Touchdown! This is going to be a fun one folks!
Oh and the extra point is good.
Chargers 7-7 Patriots, 2:55, 1st quarter
Phillips is back on the field for the Chargers, good news for them. Brady finds White, who gets taken for a loss by Jahleel Addae. On 2nd & 13, Brady finds old reliable Edelman who manages to slip defenders and pick up a first down.
Chargers 7-7 Patriots, 4:49, 1st quarter
I’m not sure exactly what the Pats defense was doing right there, but, then again, Allen is really that good. The Chargers kick it off and Cordarrelle Patterson takes it to the Patriots 33. On 1st & 10, Brady throws incomplete. On 2nd & 10, Michel gets it to the New England 45.
Chargers 7-7 Patriots, 4:56, 1st quarter
Williams is on the sidelines, trying to “walk off” a leg injury. Chargers are at their own 46 with a fresh set of downs. Ausitn Ekeler picks up three yards. 2nd & 7, Williams is already back in the game. Melvin Gordon gets the ball next and he picks up eight yards to the New England 43.
And Rivers has enough of these short gains, he finds a completely alone Keenan Allen for a touchdown! Wow! The extra point ties this game up. This might be that quarterback battle we were hoping for.
Chargers 0-7 Patriots, 6:52, 1st quarter
Gostkowski’s pooch kick goes to the 17 yard line, Justin Jackson takes it to the Chargers 33. On 1st down, Melvin Gordon gets stuffed for no gain. 2nd & 10 for the Chargers. Rivers launches one deep, aiming for Mike Williams, who ALMOST makes the catch. Oh man that was painful. 3rd and 10… there’s a flag on the play. Delay of game on the Chargers, that’s a five yard penalty. So now it’s 3rd & 15. This is not a great start for them. Rivers throws deep… and Mike Williams catches it this time, that’s an 18 yard gain and a first down. He looks shaken up on the field though.
Twitter message from Dean Wyles:
Just started taking an interest in NFL. Why do people not like Brady? Is it because he is successful or as a result of the deflate-gate? Great live coverage. Thanks. Dean Wyles
Those are all part of it. There’s a lot more, to be honest but those are big ones.
Chargers 0-7 Patriots, 7:52, 1st quarter
Michel goes up the middle and scored. Stephen Gostkowsksi’s extra point is good and just like that the Patriots have the lead. Maybe receiving was the right choice.
Chargers 0-0 Patriots, 7:52, 1st quarter
Brady throws incomplete, finally. It’s a 3rd and 5, Brady throws throws to James White for a first down conversion. They’re at the Chargers 13 now. On 1st & 10, there’s no gain by Michel. 2nd & 10, Brady hits White again. Four yard gain. Yet another 3rd down conversion here for the Patriots, LA *has* to hold them to a field goal here.
On 3rd & 6, Brady throws incomplete to the end zone… but there’s a flag. Pass Interference. Defense! The ball will be on the one yard line and an automatic first down.
Chargers 0-0 Patriots, 9:54, 1st quarter
Phillips is out, big blow for Chargers. Michel gets the ball again, he goes 11 yards to the Chargers and then 5 more yards on the next carry. Patriots are at the Chargers 19.
Chargers 0-0 Patriots, 11:20, 1st quarter
White gets into Chargers territory on a 17 yard gain. Brady has been hitting everybody so far. Chargers cornerback Adrian Phillips gets injured on the play.
Chargers 0-0 Patriots, 11:33 1st quarter
On 3rd and 3, Brady finds Edelman for an easy gain to get a first down at the Patriots 30. On first down, Michel gets stuffed again. Okay, not so great for the run game so far. On 2nd & 11, Michel picks up 9. 3rd and 2. Brady hits James White who picks up ten yards for another first down conversion.
Chargers 0-0 Patriots, 14:16, 1st quarter
Brady finds James White who takes it to the 24. Sony Michel goes off for a run, and then gets stuffed for the loss of a yard on 2nd and 2.
Chargers 0-0 Patriots, 15:00, 1st quarter
Patriots win the toss and… THEY RECEIVE? They always defer. I hate this, this is the reason they’re gonna lose. The Patriots will start from inside their 20.
A feature on Tom Brady vs Philip Rivers. Fun fact, this is the oldest quarterback battle in NFL playoff history. It’s possible that the temperature could make this not the offensive, pass-heavy game that some of us might have hoped. This could come down to the running game.
The players are coming to the field now, kickoff is coming.
Email from David George
Despite his record, I’ve never been a fan of Brady and I really, really want the Chargers to win.
However, with the best will in the world, I think your prediction of 28-31 to the Pats is being generous to the Chargers. I just can’t see the Chargers getting that close to the Pats.
Next Sunday in Kansas will be a very different proposition, though. In the meantime, here’s hoping I’m wrong.
Enjoy doing the blog tonight.
I will say this: you are very not alone in hating Tom Brady. Also: I think the Chiefs handle whoever wins this game.
I got some heat on picking Rob Gronkowski for the player to watch this game but it was partly an emotional pick. He’s been banged up this season and I fully expect him to retire at the end of the season. If so, win or lose, this would be his last home game as the Chiefs will be hosting the AFC Championship Game. I’m hoping that he has a few more memorable plays in him.
I’ve already made my predictions, I’ve got the Patriots by a field goal, but I’ve been super-duper wrong so far during these playoffs. If you have any, feel free to send them here either via email (to firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet them to @HunterFelt.
I am upset that the Chargers are now in Los Angeles because it makes the Greatest Theme Song In NFL History completely irrelevant.
The fun thing is that there will now be “Beat LA” chants from the fans in the crowd. The anti-Los Angeles chant comes from the Boston Celtics/Los Angeles Lakers rivalry in the NBA BUT not from an actual Lakers/Celtics game. Fans began the chant to implore the Philadelphia 76ers, who had just beat the Celtics, to go out and beat their West Coast enemies because if they couldn’t win at least maybe the Lakers could lose.
The good news for the warm-weather Chargers is that it’s warmed up at Foxboro. Right now it’s a warm 24 degrees Fahrenheit. So, uh, yeah. Speaking as someone who is coming to you from Somerville MA with a furnace that keeps going out, I can assure you that it makes for not ideal conditions. It should favor the Patriots, as New England receiver Julian Edelman points out via Twitter.
In their existence, the Chargers have played in one Super Bowl, back in 1995 as the San Diego Chargers, where they lost to the San Francisco 49ers. The New England Patriots have appeared in 10 and have won five, all of them with Tom Brady as quarterback and Bill Belichick as head coach. Today’s game would appear to be a mismatch. Of course, despite being the lower seed, the Chargers had a better regular season record (12-4) than the Patriots (11-5). Listen, nobody said the NFL Playoffs made sense.
The Patriots have had one of their less impressive regular seasons, with signs that Brady is finally showing signs of slipping. This could be Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ best chance to notch their win against the quarterback. The Chargers are fresh off a 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens while the Patriots were relaxing on their bye. That mean’s today’s playoff game will be yet another referendum of rest vs. rust.
The winner of today’s game will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game after the Chiefs tore through the Indianapolis Colts 31-13. Either way, we’re going to get another fantastic quarterback matchup, with either Brady or Rivers playing against Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys 30-22. After today’s game, the Philadelphia Eagles will try to keep Nick Foles Magic going against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
If you want to contribute to this liveblog, you can either email us (at email@example.com) or tweet us at (@HunterFelt) throughout today’s game with your questions, concerns, predictions, smack-talk and other such commentary. Kickoff is scheduled at 1:05pm EST, but we’ll be back well before then. It’s the Los Angeles Chargers vs the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium!
Hunter will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s his rundown of today’s game:
What the Chargers need to do to win: Get to the quarterback. While he ended the season with one of his finest efforts of the season, Tom Brady has looked human of late and more vulnerable to pressure. Meanwhile, the Chargers may have the best all-around defense of the teams remaining in the playoffs.
What the Patriots need to do to win: Keep doing what they’re doing at home. The Patriots have a perfect 8-0 record at Gillette Stadium this season and no team will have benefitted more from the bye week, what with Brady showing some surprising signs of age. Oh, and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has never won a game against Brady.
Key player: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. The Patriots’ playoff success has depended on the health of Gronkowski, maybe the greatest tight end in NFLhistory. Expect Brady to look for him when his team need to pick up big-time yardage, even though Gronkowski has not had a vintage season by his standards.
Prediction: Chargers 28-31 Patriots