The Patriots haven't lost too many regular-season games in the past year or two, but they sure know how to piece together a clunker whenever they fail to win.
For the second time in three games, the Patriots got blown out by a substantial margin, this time suffering a 30-10 loss Sunday to the slumping San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.
Three weeks after getting walloped at home by Miami's gimmick offense, the Patriots were beaten by a much simpler attack Sunday -- long, deep passes against one-on-one coverage.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed three touchdown passes, highlighting an awful effort by a struggling secondary that appeared to have found its niche early in September.
"We expected those type of big plays," cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. "We had some good moments, but we just had too many low moments."
The good moments were hard to find. Deltha O'Neal and Terrence Wheatley were beaten in coverage, and the safeties offered limited resistance down the field. The Patriots knew they'd have problems replacing Asante Samuel, but they certainly didn't expect to get picked apart at the rate they did Sunday in San Diego.
Rivers had his way with New England's secondary, completing 18 of 27 passes for 306 yards. The Patriots' vaunted pass rush, which is supposed to be the strength of this team, failed to hit him once, as the quarterback, in his own words, was "clean all night."
"The big plays kill you in the National Football League," safety Rodney Harrison said. "You can't recover when you give up 40-yard, 50-yard (and) 60-yard bombs."
Following their second blowout loss, it's back to the drawing board for the Patriots as they prepare for another potential aerial assault with the Denver Broncos coming to town.
"We just have to cover better," Harrison said. "It comes down to one man making a play against another man. It's about us making plays, and they did a better job than us."
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