Each game Patriots Insider hands out Game Balls (good things) and Goats (bad things) for the play on the field. Players, fans, refs and just about anything that happened on Sunday is fair game, including events leading up the game this week.
1) Kevin Faulk -- you can't say enough about Faulk who makes good play after great play after good play. "Nice" third down catch to help seal the game.
2) Laurence Maroney -- Maroney got hot as the temperature dropped. His 25 carries for 122 yards and 1 touchdown helped the Patriots change the momentum of the game in the second half. Maroney managed 9 first downs by himself.
3) Junior Seau -- It has been an entire season that we've been handing out game balls and Seau hasn't earned one yet. He deserves it today. He set the tone emotionally, and almost to a man, the entire team credited him for getting them pumped for the Super Bowl run. Seau managed a sack, a 2 yard tackle for a loss on third and 1 with a 5 point lead.
Jabar Gaffney -- good catch for a TD, nice blocking downfield
Ben Watson -- Crushing block on Shawn Merriman in the first quarter. Set the tone for the day. Props to Benjamin. (If you missed it... watch the tape, it was pretty solid)
Asante Samuel - Another interception in the playoffs. He just keeps producing.
Patriots Defense -- The Patriots much-maligned rush defense stepped up to contain the 7th ranked rushing offense to just 104 yards on the ground.
1) Igor Olshansky -- You need to learn about being a professional and playing before you run your mouth. Until you win a Super Bowl, it's all about getting the job done.
2) Chargers Rush Defense - For all the talk about how good the Chargers defense is compared to New England, it went quiet when it mattered most. Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips had no sacks and didn't lead the San Diego defense. The team gave up more yards on the ground than their opponent, and the team couldn't stop the run when the game was on the line. There's always next year.
3) LT - Why start the game when it was apparent that there was something seriously wrong with the knee? LT had to sit out the game after the second series of the game. Some call it courage for trying, but really, it was little more than deception or selfessness. Turner was much better than the injured LT, and could have helped the Chargers on the first two drives.
San Diego papers backing up the Chargers trash talk -- Media members should let the players do the talking and let them back it up before chiming in.
Rachel Washington's Lawyer -- Of all the reasons to dislike lawyers, Ms Washington's lawyer gives us one more. Blackmail deserves jail time. If things happened like Randy Moss' lawyer says they did (link), Ms. Washington and her lawyer deserve jail time. They had the opportunity to keep this quiet this week, but they chose not to. Scum.
Official Game Thread