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UPDATE 8:40pm: GAME OVER PATS WIN!
Captain comeback (Tom Brady) has another fourth quarter comeback to lead his team to victory. His very first one came against the Chargers in 2001. Now he has another against the same team six years later. The Patirots won when the Chargers Nate Kaeding missed on a 54-yard attempt. Chargers QB Philip Rivers almost had enough time to get San Diego into field goal range, but a wasted time out earlier in the half left San Diego with only one on the team's final drive.
Key play: 54 yard attempt short.
We'll have more after the postgame pressers.
UPDATE 8:20pm: FG PATRIOTS - Vintage Pats
What can you say other than is there a better quarterback to have on your side than Tom Brady in the fourth quarter? Probably not. New England took the lead on a 31-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
Now it's time for the defense to hold on.
Key plays: Reche Caldwell
SCORE: Patriots 24 - Chargers 21
UPDATE 8:00pm: TD PATRIOTS - Back in the game
With a touchdown and a 2-point conversion the Patriots are able to take advantage of the amazing good fortune of Reche Caldwell's fumble recovery. Brady engineered a 5-play 32-yard drive that was capped by Reche Caldwell's 4-yard TD. It is Caldwell's first TD in San Diego since leaving as a free agent.
With the game on the line, Tom Brady was able to get the team back in the game.
Key plays: the turnover by Brown's strip. Caldwell's catch for the score when everything was covered. 2-point conversion by Kevin Faulk
SCORE: Patriots 21 - Chargers 21
UPDATE 7:52pm: AMAZING Good Fortune
Going for it on a fourth and 5, Tom Brady made the mistake of throwing another interception. Troy Brown ripped the ball out of Marlon McCree's arms forcing a double change of possession.
New England gets the ball back at the Charger 32.
Big time heads up play by Troy Brown.
UPDATE 7:25pm: TD CHARGERS - could be the game
Larry Izzo whose job it was to contain the outside got sucked in and let LT run around him for an easy score. Out-of-position backups have been the downfall of the Patriots in key situations. Last year Willie McGinest was seen yelling at Izzo for a similar situation.
The Chargers formed a solid looking drive to wrest the momentum and the game back from New England with a 9 play 83-yard drive.
Key plays: Antonio Gates q 19-yard catch to the 50. 31-yard deep pass to Vincent Jackson at the Patriots 3.
SCORE: Patriots 13 - Chargers 21
UPDATE 7:10pm: FG PATRIOTS - Destiny or good fortune?
Well, I was going to say the Patriots were given every possible break on a series after San Diego muffed the punt setting up New England on the Chargers 38. A couple plays later Tom Brady was sacked, fumbled the ball and Matt Light recovered. Again another good break.
San Diego defensive back Drayton Florence gave a head butt Dan Graham, personal foul for 15 yards and a first down. More good fortune.
A bad underthrow by Brady to a wide-open Ben Watson and the Patriots had to go for the FG.
Key plays: Muffed punt. Personal foul. Missed play to Watson. 34-yard FG
SCORE: Patriots 13 - Chargers 14
UPDATE 6:55pm: Another Bad Throw
Tom Tom Tom what are you thinking? A bad throw, literally, aimed at Troy Brown was picked off at the Patriots 49 and returned deep into Pats territory. The defense bailed Brady out by forcing a bad series by the Chargers which was aided by a holding penalty and a sack that knocked San Diego out of FG range.
San Diego has been unable to put the game out of reach with multiple chances. It's the big plays by Tomlinson that have been the difference. Philip Rivers has not been able to change out of plays to avoid the blitz. New England has now caught him 3 times all for potentially scoring position.
New England had to start another drive inside their own 10, actually on the 2.
UPDATE: 6:30pm: At the Half
The Chargers have owned the Patriots most of the half. If New England hadn't converted on the final two minutes, it would have put New England in a dire situation. Whatever New England was able to do in that drive, they'll need to replicate. Points are going to be very important to get if the Patriots are to have any hope in the second half.
Philip Rivers 7/16 117 yards
L. Tomlinson 14 carries 79 yards 1 TD, 2 rec. 64 yards
Antonio Gates 2 rec. 12 yards
T. Brady 9/19 93 yards 1 TD 1 INT
K. Faulk 5 carries 27 yards
C. Dillon 5 carries 14 yards
J. Gaffney 4 rec. 46 yards 1 TD
UPDATE 6:25pm: TD PATRIOTS - Best 2 min offense in the league
In a big turn of momentum by the Patriots, Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field with only 1:58 on the clock and the ball on their own 28. Brady used split receiver sets and a number of quick runs by Kevin Faulk to march down into scoring position. Brady judiciously used his 2 timeouts to keep the game clock from expiring as he worked the team down the field.
With 13 seconds on the clock and no time outs from the Chargers 6, Brady got New England into the end zone. The play at first looked like Brady was going to try to scramble out of the pressure, but he was able to locate Jabar Gaffney in the back of the end zone for the score. It was classic Patriots against a San Diego defense that had owned New England up to that point.
Key plays: 17-yard completion on 2nd and 17 to convert at the San Diego 48. Short pass to Reche Caldwell on a third and 5 to the Chargers 18. Offside penalty on Donnie Edwards at the 11 giving the Patriots a 1st at the six.
SCORE: Patriots 10 - Chargers 14
UPDATE 6:10pm: TD CHARGERS - Big Hole for Pats
Things are getting ugly quickly for New England. The Patriots were caught by a screen pass to LT that went for 58 yards and got the ball down to the Pats 5. The next play San Diego punched it in to go up by 11.
New England has no answer for the Charger basics on offense; LT runs and LT screens.
Key Plays: 58-yard screen pass to LT to get to the 6.
SCORE: Patriots 3 - Chargers 14
UPDATE 6:00pm: Disaster averted
After squandering their best field position of the game a first down at their own 43, two plays later Tom Brady threw it right into the hands of Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards.
The New England defense came up big by limiting the run on first (3 yards), an incomplete on second and a blitz sack of Philip Rivers to force a three and out.
New England then went three and out when they had the ball back.
UPDATE 5:50pm: TD CHARGERS - Chargers momentum
The Patriots went three and out, yet again having to punt deep in their own territory. The Chargers have started drives on 26, 50, 35, 39 and the Patriots 48, but have been unable to do anything with the ball.
On a fourth and 1 from the Patriots 39, the Chargers rip off a 17-yard run. Five plays later they have a LaDainian Tomlinson 2-yard dive for a TD.
Key Plays: 4th and one run by Turner. Challenge on a ball ruled a fumble at the 3, overturned to give it back to San Diego.
SCORE: Patriots 3 - Chargers 7
UPDATE 5:30pm: FG PATRIOTS
In a great looking drive by the Patriots, Tom Brady and Corey Dillon were able to march New England down the field to the Chargers 32. From there an overthrow of Jabar Gaffney in the end zone forced a 50-yard FG attempt by Stephen Gostkowski.
Kick was good.
Key Plays: Kevin Faulk run up the middle on 3rd and four.
SCORE: Patriots 3 - Chargers 0
UPDATE 5:20pm: What Was Marty Thinking?
In a bizarre decision to go for it on fourth and 11, disaster ensued. Philip Rivers dropped back and New England threw a blitz at the youngster. Net result a Mike Vrabel sack and forced fumble recovered by New England. It wouldn't have made much of a difference, as the ball would have turned over on downs regardless.
UPDATE 5:15pm: Another three and out
After holding the Chargers to a three and out by stuffing a LT run and a pair of dropped passes, New England took over at their own 6. Kevin Faulk was back to return the kick. Troy Brown was in on the first punt.
New England didn't fare any better on its second series. Trying to spread out the Chargers defense didn't work as the pressure got to Brady twice. He was able to scramble for 4 yards the first time; the second forced a quick throw and incompletion.
The Patriots are unable to establish any type of rhythm, and much like their attempt during the season to pass out of the pressure, isn't working. New England has one run on the day Dillon's carry.
UPDATE 5:05pm: Patriots first series 2 yards
Patriots misfire with a Ben Watson drop, a 2-yard run by Corey Dillon and a near interception off a tipped ball. The Patriots go three and out in an ugly series that is also not a good omen if it continues.
Punting from the end zone, Todd Sauerbrun managed to only get the ball to the Patriots 49. The Chargers are already in Patriots territory. Actually, the ball is at the 50.
UPDATE 4:55pm: First series
Not a good omen. LaDainian Tomlinson rumbled around the left end for 11 on the first play. If New England cannot contain LT, this game will be over early. The Patriots managed to get back into it, stuff LT for a couple of short gains after that. New England is trying to get pressure on Philip Rivers early with blitzes up the middle.
Chad Scott made a solid tackle to prevent the first down after the Chargers crossed Midfield.
With the Punt, Bill Belichick has extended his record of allowing 0 (zero) points on an opening drive in the postseason.
UPDATE 4:40pm: Coin Toss
The Chargers won the toss and will receive. Not a good thing if New England can't slow them down to get off to a good start.
UPDATE 4:20pm: Inactive analysis
James Sanders gets the nod at starting SS for Rodney Harrison, which isn't much of a surprise. The youngster has done well during the five regular season starts he's had, as well as his first postseason start last week against the New York Jets. Artrell Hawkins will man the other side at safety while Chad Scott should see action on passing downs. Baker is primarily a special teams ace, so he'll be replaced by one of the youngsters in Antwain Spann or Corey Mays.
Offensive line: With Britt out, Ryan O'Callaghan will be the primary backup behind Nick Kaczur and Matt Light at tackle. With Mruczkowski out, Russ Hoschstein gets the opportunity to back up the guard center position.
Wide receiver: Childress will sit the game out. The Patriots have Troy Brown, Chad Jackson, Reche Caldwell, Kelvin Kight and Jabar Gaffney ready to go. Gaffney had an outstanding game against the New York Jets last week turning in a eight catch 104 yard performance.
Defensive line: no surprises. Marquise Hill and LeKevin Smith have been inactive much of the season. The standard 3-4 alignment would have Ty Warren, Vince Wilfrork and Richard Seymour on the line, and Jarvis Green would slide in when the team moves to the 4-3.
UPDATE 4:00pm: Inactives
Game Day Inactives:
Talk about the Game on the Patriots Insider Message Boards