Patriots-Chargers Takeaways: Stephon Gilmore Locks Down Another Top Receiver

Stephon Gilmore faced a tough assignment against Keenan Allen

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Uh oh, here come the New England Patriots.

The Patriots put together their most complete performance of the season Sunday in their 45-0 shutout victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. While the Patriots’ offense and defense were impressive Sunday, special teams was actually New England’s most impressive unit with two touchdowns and more standout plays.

Here are our top takeaways from Sunday’s blowout win.

All advanced stats via PFF unless otherwise noted.

PASSING GAME
Cam Newton went 12-of-19 for 69 yards with a touchdown while Jarrett Stidham came in and completed 2-of-3 passes for 61 yards with a touchdown in garbage time.

Adjusted completion percentage
Of Newton’s seven incompletions, two were dropped and one was thrown away for a 77.8-percent adjusted completion rate.

Stidham’s only incompletion was inaccurate, so he had a 66.7-percent adjusted completion rate.

— Newton and Stidham both were 0-of-1 on deep passes.

— Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and running back James White each had drops.

— It ultimately didn’t matter, but it wasn’t one of Newton’s stronger passing days, though he was better Sunday than in Week 12’s win over the Arizona Cardinals. Newton’s worst pass was his deep incompletion that came up short to wide receiver Damiere Byrd into double coverage that easily could have been picked off. His best throw was his touchdown pass to wide receiver N’Keal Harry. His best play was a 14-yard scramble when Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa was bearing down with pressure.

Pass protection
RT Mike Onwenu: QB hit, hurry
RG Shaq Mason: two hurries
RB Sony Michel: sack
LT Jermaine Eluemunor: hurry
LG Joe Thuney: hurry

— Center David Andrews, left tackle Justin Herron, tight end Ryan Izzo and running backs James White and Damien Harris were clean in pass protection.

RUSHING ATTACK
The Patriots ran the ball well out of the gate on their first drive and threw in new wrinkles with two wildcat snaps for Damien Harris. Then they got more traditional, and the rushing attack suffered from it. Still, the Patriots ran 41 times for 167 yards (not including kneel-downs). Sony Michel even got some extensive work in garbage time with 10 carries for 35 yards.

Elusiveness
WR Donte Moncrief: 8 yards after contact per attempt, one avoided tackle
Newton: 3.64 yards after contact per attempt, two avoided tackles
Harris: 3.25 yards after contact per attempt
RB Sony Michel: 2.7 yards after contact per attempt, three avoided tackles

— Newton now has 11 rushing touchdowns on the season. That certainly helps offset his relative lack of passing touchdowns. He has five passing touchdowns to nine interceptions on the season.

— Moncrief was this week’s recipient of a jet sweep.

PASS DEFENSE
The Patriots’ defense had one of their best performances of the season against the pass on Sunday. They limited rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who has been pretty incredible this season, to 26-of-53 passing for 209 yards with two interceptions and a 43.7 passer rating.

Pass coverage
LB Terez Hall: five catches on eight targets, 37 yards, two PBUs
LB Anfernee Jennings: 3-3, 31 yards
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2-6, 27 yards, PBU
SS Adrian Phillips: 4-6, 24 yards, PBU
CB Jason McCourty: 1-2, 24 yards, PBU
FS Devin McCourty: 4-4, 22 yards
SS Kyle Dugger: 1-4, 12 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 3-4, 9 yards
OLB John Simon: 1-1, 9 yards
CB Joejuan Williams: 1-2, 7 yards
CB JC Jackson: 1-2, 7 yards, INT
CB Jonathan Jones: 0-2
CB Myles Bryant: 0-2
OLB Chase Winovich: INT

— Gilmore has faced incredibly tough matchups two weeks in a row and has quietly shut down DeAndre Hopkins and now Keenan Allen. Allen caught just five passes on 11 targets for 48 yards. Gilmore let up just two of those catches on three targets for 27 yards and was not penalized. He traveled into the slot 10 times and let up those two catches on three targets for 27 yards. Gilmore has now let up 23 catches on 37 targets for 323 yards with two touchdowns and one interception this season while missing three games with a knee injury. He’s returned to form as last season’s defensive player of the year.

— Jackson, who now has seven interceptions on the season, ranks second in passer rating allowed (53.4) on the season. He also had a difficult matchup against Mike Williams before leaving the game with an injury.

— Jones (neck) also suffered an injury and played sparingly. Jason McCourty and Bryant helped fill in his slot role.

— Hall had a nose for the ball with two pass breakups. The Patriots were swarming to the ball all game.

— Phillips had one of his best overall game against his former team.

Pass rush
DT Adam Butler: sack, QB hit, three hurries, batted pass
OLB Josh Uche: three QB hits, hurry
Winovich: two QB hits, two hurries
DE Deatrich Wise: sack, QB hit, hurry
DT Lawrence Guy: sack, hurry
LB Anfernee Jennings: QB hit, hurry
DT Byron Cowart: QB hit, batted pass
Dugger: hurry
Bentley: hurry
Simon: hurry
OLB Rashod Berry: hurry

— The Patriots deployed a defensive front of Butler, Uche, Winovich and Wise in obvious passing situations, and they were obviously extremely efficient.

— Uche plays at a different speed than the rest of the Patriots’ front-seven defenders.

— Berry, a college tight end at Ohio State, got a ton of playing time in the garbage time.

— Herbert was under pressure on 33.9 percent of dropbacks and completed just 7-of-16 passes with three sacks.

RUN DEFENSE
The Chargers barely got a chance to run the ball but managed 70 yards on 15 carries with a long run of just 9 yards.

Tackling efficiency
Bentley: three stops
Butler: three stops
Hall: three stops, missed tackle
Phillips: two stops
Guy: two stops
Wise: stop
Gilmore: stop
Williams: stop
Jennings: stop
Devin McCourty: stop
Simon: stop, missed tackle
Winovich: missed tackle
Dugger: two missed tackles

— Hall filled in for Bentley in garbage time. Bentley has played two solid games in a row after being a popular punching bag among fans early in the season.

— Guy and Butler are playing some of their best football right now, which is helping to fortify the defense.

NESN’s New England football takeaways is presented by Valvoline Instant Oil Change

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