Patriots Use Chargers Game As Stepping Stone

The Chargers came to Gillette Stadium with payback on their minds. Right after last season's playoff loss to the Patriots, some of San Diego's players started pointing to this game. The Chargers' bark proved to be worse than their bite as they were whacked 38-14 in front of a national television audience

The Chargers seemed as lethargic as the Patriots were energetic, and that governed how each team performed. The game was essentially over by halftime, with the Patriots leading 24-0 and dominating on both sides of the ball.

"I think we got off to a fast start, which we were talking about all week," quarterback Tom Brady observed after the game. "This is a very physical team that plays with a lot of energy. Coming out there and putting a touchdown on the board on the first drive. ... I loved the way we played in the second half. The 93-yard drive there in the fourth quarter was great. If we can just keep doing that, I think we'll all be happy where we end up."

With New England leading 17-0 late in the first half, San Diego was driving into scoring position. On third-and-one from the Pats' 37, Philip Rivers dropped back to pass, and Adalius Thomas dropped into coverage. Rivers fired to his right, but Thomas read it the whole way. After securing the ball in his huge hands, the 270-pounder raced 65 yards to the end zone. No Charger could catch him.

"When he threw it, I broke on it and caught it," Thomas explained afterward. "I dropped one last week, so I told him I owed him one. It was a good thing, and I just ran like Forrest [Gump]."

LaDainian Tomlinson, who last year said New England didn't have any class, now believes his team has to learn to be more like the Patriots.

"Those guys have won three Super Bowls for a reason," Tomlinson said. "They know when they need to turn it on and take it to the next level. I think we're still learning against good teams to do that. Obviously being in the situations they've been in -- whether it be the playoffs or the Super Bowls -- they just have a knack for stepping up."

After dismantling both the Jets and Chargers, New England now prepares to host the 0-2 Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Not many people will give the Bills a chance this weekend and, after the way the Patriots dominated San Diego, that will be a familiar tune for opposing teams this season.

Notes:

--The Patriots scored 38 points for the second consecutive game, marking the fifth time in franchise history that the team scored 38 or more points in consecutive games during the same regular season. The last time the Patriots achieved the feat was in 2002, when they defeated the New York Jets 44-7 (9/15/02) and followed that with a 41-38 win over Kansas City (9/22/02). The Patriots also achieved the feat during the 1984, 1976, 1962 and 1960 seasons.

--Randy Moss gained 105 yards on eight receptions, totaling 100 or more yards in a game for the 50th time in his career (including three playoff games). He has exceeded the 100-yard mark in each of his first two games as a Patriot, following his nine-catch, 183-yard performance in the Patriots' season-opening win over the New York Jets last week.

--Adalius Thomas returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Patriots a 24-0 lead. For Thomas, it was his seventh career interception and his third career interception return for a touchdown. It was his sixth career defensive touchdown -- he has also brought three fumbles back to the end zone.

--Junior Seau played in his 243rd career game, tying him with Bill Romanowski for second in NFL history for most games played by a linebacker. Clay Matthews holds the league record, playing in 278 career games for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons from 1978-1996. Seau, who is in his 18th season, began his career in 1990 with the San Diego Chargers and played with them for 13 seasons while appearing in 200 games over that span.

--Patriots chairman/CEO Robert Kraft presented coach Bill Belichick with a game ball in the locker room after the Patriots victory over the Chargers. Belichick also took time to address the fans in his postgame press conference and thank them for their support over the last week.

"I want to thank the fans for their awesome support," he said. "I definitely felt that, from the time I walked out on the field. They showed up tonight. They were with us. They gave us some energy. We appreciate that. We have great fans. And we have a great owner. He's been awesome all week. At times, it's been a tough situation. I'm just glad it worked out well for everybody tonight."

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