The San Diego Chargers took full advantage of a depleted New England secondary, handing the Patriots their first home loss in almost three years with a 41-17 victory at Gillette Stadium.
The defending Champions, forced to play without two of their top three cornerbacks, as well as safety Rodney Harrison who is out for the season with a knee injury, managed a 17-17 tie at halftime but were unable to contain the Chargers explosive second half performance.
Drew Brees connected on 19 of 24 passes for 248-yards, including two touchdowns while LaDanian Tomlinson ran for two scores, collecting 134-yards on twenty-five carries for San Diego who improves its record to 2-2, good enough for third place in a tough AFC West.
New England, sporting an identical 2-2 record, trailed in almost every statistical category, most notably rushing and passing where they gave up 183-yards and 248-yards respectively.
"San Diego is the better team," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick admitted. "They did a good job in every area better than we did and I think the score reflected that."
Chargers head coach Marty Shottenheimer reflected on the frustrations the Patriots are facing, telling reporters "I wondered during the week, is there a point in time when you can't find enough fingers to fill the dike? I think that's what may have finally happened."
…The loss at Gillette Stadium was the first for New England since Dec. 22, 2002 when they lost to the New York Jets.
… LaDanian Tomlinson's 134-yard performance marks only the second time in the past sixteen games that New England has allowed an opposing back to rush for 100 – yards or more.
It took four weeks but the Oakland Raiders finally notched their first win of the season, squeezing out a 19-13 decision over the Dallas Cowboys.
Randy Moss, who lit up the Dallas defense with a 79-yard completion on Oakland's second play from scrimmage, found himself in the role of decoy the majority of the game, drawing a constant double team from the Cowboys secondary.
The added coverage allowed the Raiders to break out their running game as LaMont Jordan set a career-high with 126-yards and one touchdown.
"I encourage defenses to play that way," Jordan said.
"If you play two-deep defense against us with the way we're capable of running the ball, we are going to run the ball down your throat. I think today was a true test of that."
Trailing 19-13 the Cowboys moved the ball inside the five-yard line but a two yard loss followed by three incomplete passes by Drew Bledsoe gave the ball back to Oakland with 1:45 remaining in the game.
Sebastian Janikowski, who has struggled through the first three games of the season, added four field goals while Kerry Collins connected on 13 of 23 passes for 218-yards.
The win improves Oakland's record to 1-3 but does little for their standing in the AFC West where they still remain in last place behind San Diego, Kansas City and the Denver Broncos.
…The Raiders were flagged 13 times for penalties throughout the game, including three in the first 74 seconds of the fourth quarter.
…Following his 79-yard pass in the first quarter Randy Moss was held to just three more completions for a total of 44-yards. He led the Raiders in yardage with 128 but failed to score any touchdowns.
…LaMont Jordan's 126-yards on the ground snapped the Cowboys thirteen game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher.
Despite jumping out to an early 17-0 lead the Kansas City Chiefs could not contain an ailing Donovan McNabb, as the Philadelphia Eagles rallied to a 37-31 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs took control quickly, scoring on their first three possessions before Eagles defensive back Sheldon Brown picked off a Trent Green pass returning it 40-yards for Philadelphia's first score.
Kansas City responded with a 96-yard Dante Hall kick return for a touchdown but as quickly as they gained the momentum, they lost it, giving up twenty-eight unanswered points in just over two quarters of play.
McNabb, who played with a bruised sternum, a sore shin and a painful sports hernia, completed 33 of 48 passes for 369-yards, including touchdowns to Terrell Owens, L.J. Smith and Mike Bartum.
"I was just doing whatever I had to help my team win," McNabb told reporters.
"Nothing is easy in this game especially when your body is in a position where you feel like you can't do what you're used to doing."
Hurting or not, the McNabb to Owens connection helped fuel the turnaround as Owens pulled down 11 catches for 171-yards including a seven yard touchdown.
As Philadelphia advances to 3-1 the Chiefs find themselves in a two game skid, falling into a two-way tie for second place in the AFC West with the San Diego Chargers.
…An electrical problem shut down the scoreboard and play clock for most of the second quarter.
…Daunte Hall tied an NFL record with six kickoffs returned for touchdowns.
…In total the Chiefs had eight kickoff returns for a total of 234-yards.
… Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Paul Grasmanis re-tore his Achilles' tendon and will miss the remainder of the 2005 season.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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