Final, Patriots 21-13: And that will do it.
The Los Angeles Chargers failed to find the end zone on their final possession, allowing the New England Patriots to escape with a 21-13 victory at Gillette Stadium.
It was an ugly victory for the 6-2 Patriots, with their only touchdown coming on the first play of the second quarter. The rest of New England’s points came on a safety and four Stephen Gostkowski field goals. Gostkowski finished the game 4-for-6 on field-goal attempts, twice missing from 43 yards out.
Jonathan Jones intercepted a Philip Rivers pass in the end zone on the game’s final play to secure the win.
The Patriots will have a bye next weekend before returning to action Sunday, Nov. 12 against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field.
Fourth quarter, 4:52, Patriots 21-13: The Patriots appeared to be in business after Rob Gronkowski picked up 25 yards on second-and-20, but they yet again were forced to settle for a field goal.
Tom Brady found Gronkowski down the seam after guard Joe Thuney was flagged for clipping on the previous play. The big tight end fought through a hold to make the catch.
Joey Bosa later jumped offsides on third down to set up a third-and-short for the Patriots, and Brady picked up the necessary yardage with a quarterback sneak.
Wide receiver Chris Hogan, who’s taken an absolute beating this season, was injured during the drive. He appeared to take a knee to the right side of his upper body after catching a pass over the middle.
Fourth quarter, 4:52, Patriots 18-13: The Chargers picked up one first down and nothing more before punting it away. The Patriots now will look to put this game away.
Fourth quarter, 7:05, Patriots 18-13: Three-and-out for the Patriots. The Chargers take over on their own 8-yard line after being flagged for a block in the back during the punt return.
Fourth quarter, 8:30, Patriots 18-13: This one is far from over.
After picking up 30 yards thanks to a defensive pass interference call on Johnson Bademosi, Philip Rivers found Travis Benjamin in the corner of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown.
Benjamin beat Malcolm Butler, who hardly has been targeted today. The Chargers instead have picked on Bademosi, who has come back to earth after excelling over the previous two weeks.
The Chargers went for two but couldn’t convert, keeping the Patriots’ lead at five points.
Fourth quarter, 9:36, Patriots 18-7: The Patriots now have attempted field goals on five consecutive possessions, and Stephen Gostkowski has missed two them. Gostkowski’s latest miss, which came from 43 yards out, capped a 16-play drive for New England.
Third quarter, 2:26, Patriots 18-7: The Chargers had another touchdown wiped away by a penalty, this one an offensive pass interference call on Tyrell Williams that negated a 41-yard catch-and-run by Travis Benjamin.
That penalty set up a third-and-13, and Williams was unable to come up with a first down, with Jonathan Jones poking the ball out of his hands. That resulted in another Chargers punt.
Third quarter, 5:25, Patriots 18-7: Stephen Gostkowski booted a 43-yard field goal to extend the Patriots’ lead. He’s 3-for-4 on field-goal attempts today.
Third quarter, 10:52, Patriots 15-7: The Patriots caught a break on what would have been Philip Rivers’ longest completion of the day.
Tyrell Williams beat Johnson Bademosi for a touchdown down the left sideline, but officials ruled Williams had voluntarily stepped out of bounds before he caught the ball, resulting in a penalty that wiped away the score.
Rivers fumbled for a 20-yard loss three plays later — with David Harris providing considerable pressure by bowling over running back Melvin Gordon — then attempted to throw a deep ball into sextuple coverage. Predictably, it fell incomplete, and the Chargers were forced to punt.
Third quarter, 14:28, Patriots 15-7: The Patriots have thoroughly dominated the Chargers on special teams today.
L.A.’s latest gaffe came when Tenny Palepoi jumped offsides on the opening kickoff of the second half. New England opted for a re-kick and Dion Lewis returned it 71 yards to the Chargers’ 25-yard line.
The Pats squandered that return, though, going nowhere on three plays before sending Stephen Gostkowski out for a 43-yard field goal that missed wide right. Red-zone struggles have been an issue for the Patriots all season.
Halftime, Patriots 15-7: The Patriots lead by eight at the break. They’ll get the ball first to begin the second half.
Second quarter, 0:20, Patriots 15-7: Tom Brady completed passes of 13, 16 and 25 yards and also benefited from some defensive pass interference to march the Patriots into the red zone, but they were forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal.
Left tackle Nate Solder did an excellent job blocking Joey Bosa on the drive, giving Brady plenty of time to throw.
Second quarter, 2:00, Patriots 12-7: The Patriots will have a chance for one of their patented double scores after forcing a Chargers punt.
Johnson Bademosi was in coverage as Philip Rivers threw incomplete to Tyrell Williams on third down.
Marcus Cannon remains out as the Patriots’ offense returns to the field, with LaAdrian Waddle getting the call to replace him. Cannon is questionable to return with an ankle injury, per the team.
Second quarter, 4:06, Patriots 12-7: Stephen Gostkowski added to the Patriots’ lead with a 25-yard field goal.
We again saw a lot of Rex Burkhead on this latest drive, with Tom Brady completing three passes to him for 26 yards. Running back Mike Gillislee also picked up a first down on fourth-and-1 after being stuffed on third-and-1.
One injury to monitor: Marcus Cannon was slow to get up after several plays and eventually went to the sideline, with LaAdrian Waddle replacing him at right tackle. Cannon, who was questionable for this game with an ankle injury, has been tasked with slowing down star pass rusher Melvin Ingram today.
Second quarter, 9:08, Patriots 9-7: To say Travis Benjamin is going to want this one back would be an understatement.
Benjamin muffed a Ryan Allen punt, recovered it, ran backward into his end zone and was brought down by Jonathan Jones and Brandon King. The result? A safety, giving the Patriots their first lead of the game.
On the drive that preceded the safety, the Patriots gave the Chargers a steady dose of Rex Burkhead, giving the ball to the running back on five of their first six plays, including one that was called back for a penalty.
Second quarter, 12:39, 7-7: Elandon Roberts and Duron Harmon teamed up to stop Branden Oliver short on third-and-1, resulting in a Chargers three-and-out.
The third-down stop bailed out Cassius Marsh, who again was beaten around the edge on a 6-yard run by Melvin Gordon one play earlier.
Jonathan Jones was called for an illegal block in the back on the punt return, backing the Patriots up 15 yards.
Second quarter, 14:56, 7-7: The Patriots responded to the Chargers’ touchdown by marching 77 yards in 14 plays for one of their own.
Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski wide open in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter for the tight end’s fifth touchdown catch of the season.
Though Gronkowski finished the job, Brady relied on his running backs for much of the drive. Dion Lewis carried the ball five times and caught two passes, and James White also had two receptions, including this impressive 27-yarder on third-and-11:
Receivers Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan also had third-down conversions on the drive.
First quarter, 6:15, Chargers 7-0: The Chargers are on the board thanks to the longest run of Melvin Gordon’s career.
Gordon found a seam in the Patriots’ defense and galloped 87 yards into the end zone to open the scoring. Defensive end Cassius Marsh lost contain on the play, and although Malcolm Butler showed great hustle in chasing Gordon down the field, he couldn’t quite catch up in time.
Gordon’s touchdown run was tied for the longest ever allowed by a Patriots team.
First quarter, 8:48, 0-0: After Elandon Roberts dropped Melvin Gordon for a 2-yard loss on second-and-15, Antonio Gates came up 1 yard shy of the first-down marker on a third-down completion from Philip Rivers. L.A. opted to send kicker Nick Novak out to attempt a 51-yard field goal, and the 36-year-old missed wide right.
Trevor Reilly made a tackle on the opening kickoff — his first play as a Patriot — but did not end up starting on defense. Kyle Van Noy, David Harris and Roberts were New England’s starting linebackers.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Patriots won the opening coin toss and chose to defer. It’ll be Chargers ball first as we get underway here in Foxboro.
It also looks like Danny Amendola’s latest injury hasn’t altered the Patriots’ plans for him. He’ll be New England’s primary punt returner again today.
11:30 a.m.: The Patriots again will be without cornerback Stephon Gilmore this afternoon.
Gilmore, who missed the past two games with a concussion, is among the Patriots’ seven inactives for today’s contest. That should mean another start for Johnson Bademosi, who’s played well in Gilmore’s absence.
Marcus Cannon, Danny Amendola, Elandon Roberts, Cassius Marsh and Lawrence Guy all are active after being listed as questionable. Cannon’s presence will be a big boost as the Patriots try to protect Tom Brady from Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
10:08 a.m.: Greetings from Gillette Stadium, where Tom Brady is enjoying a few moments of solitude on the bench three hours before kickoff.
This is a departure from the quarterback’s usual routine. He rarely is on the field this early.
8:45 a.m. ET: The New England Patriots will enjoy a nice weekend off next week. But first, they have some business to attend to.
The Patriots will host the Los Angeles Chargers this afternoon at Gillette Stadium in their final game before their bye week.
New England and L.A. both enter the day on three-game winning streaks, with the Patriots beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons and the Chargers dispatching the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos.
The Patriots will be without at least a few key players today, as defensive tackle Malcom Brown, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and cornerback Eric Rowe all have been ruled out. Six other Patriots are listed as questionable, including cornerback Stephon Gilmore and wide receiver Danny Amendola.
Weather could be a factor in this game, as heavy rain and winds are expected to hit the Foxboro area this afternoon.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. Be sure to check back here throughout the morning for all your pregame needs.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images