Foxboro, MA— The New England Patriots punch their ticket to yet another AFC Championship game, defeating the Los Angeles Chargers in a convincing fashion, 41-28.
Los Angeles came into the contest as the season’s road warriors posting an 8-1 record this season away from home. They understood that they had a tough task coming into Gillette Stadium and stealing a win on the road against a Patriots team who had won eight straight postseason games against AFC opponents.
Yet, Tom Brady and New England would serve to be too much against the Chargers and turned what was hoped to be an all-out classic into an absolute route.
The first half began with New England drawing first blood as Brady would take the Pats 83 yards for their first postseason opening drive score in their last eight postseason games. Los Angeles answered back rather quickly to the Patriots score, taking a little over two and a half minutes to tie the ball game at seven on a 43-yard reception by wide receiver Keenan Allen.
New England then scored on the following drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass by Phillip Dorsett, making the score 14-7. And this was just the beginning of what would turn the game on its head in the first-half.
What seemed to be the Chargers’ game plan coming into the ball game was to chop the game up. They went to their zone defense led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and got absolutely destroyed. Brady was an absolute butcher in the first half.
If the Chargers defense was a steak, Brady was Gordon Ramsay filleting that steak. Los Angeles failed to make any sort of major changes to counteract the efficiency of Brady and the Patriots.
On top of helping New England have more first downs than the Chargers had plays, Brady threw for 233 of his 343 yards in the first half. He did an outstanding job finding guys like Julian Edelman, James White and Phillip Dorsett, who combined for 289 yards in the contest.
Brady finished the game going 34-for-44 for 343 yards and one touchdown.
The Patriots were equally as great in the run game. New England scored the ball five times in the first half, three of which were scored by Sony Michel, who would finish the game with 129 yards on 24 carries.
Los Angeles would go to the lock room down 35-7 and looked completely defeated going into the second half.
Although the game was somewhat decided coming into the second half, New England did not let up and this time it was its defense on full display.
The Patriots defense in the game was very impressive. They held the Chargers to 335 yards and made things extremely difficult for Phillip Rivers, who finished 25-for-51 for 331 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
New England continued to throw different looks at Rivers in both the first and second half. The Patriots made sure that Rivers felt pressure with every drop back that he made in the contest. Rivers couldn’t get the necessary protection that he needed from his offensive line, and was hurried multiple times and got sacked twice.
The run game was also non-existent for the Chargers as well in the contest as Los Angeles was held to only 19 yards rushing. Melvin Gordon was held to 15 yards on nine carries. The Patriots defense closed the hole quickly the second half and essentially didn’t allow the Chargers to make a big play after the 43-yard touchdown in the first half.
New England was dominant in every facet of this ball game with a dominating 13-point victory and looked next to perfect. If this is the way they are going to approach every game going forward, they may be an unbeatable force.
With the Chargers now unplugged, New England now returns to the AFC Championship game looking to return to yet another Super Bowl. They will face the red hot Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Jan. 20 at Arrowhead Field at 6:40 pm ET.