FOXBORO — The Patriots wasted little time in dismantling the Chargers, so we gained’t dilly dally right here, both.
When’s the final time you noticed the Patriots play a extra dominant, extra full recreation? Has there been one up to now 5 years? Has it been longer?
Contemplating the opponent and the stakes, this was as spectacular a efficiency as I can keep in mind (be happy to e mail me at [email protected] in the event you can consider others that rival it).
We’ll see if the Pats can carry the momentum to Kansas Metropolis subsequent weekend for an AFC Championship showdown with the Chiefs.
For now, let’s revisit their 41-28 destruction of the Chargers, a recreation that was determined properly earlier than halftime.
On the primary play of the fourth quarter, dealing with the Cowl-Three look he had already shredded, Tom Brady let it rip for Julian Edelman down the center.
Chargers security Derwin James had nice protection on Edelman, however Brady’s velocity and placement rendered James’ protection inconsequential. Brady fired a laser, hit Edelman in stride and watched him run away from James for a 35-yard achieve.
General, this was a near-flawless efficiency from Brady. Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley insisted on enjoying delicate zone protection for almost all of the sport. Brady’s seen the Cowl-Three a thousand occasions, and it appeared exactly that means on Sunday.
Collectively, Brady and Josh McDaniels toyed with the Los Angeles protection, establishing play-action passes over the center on the perfect moments.
Brady has confronted defenses coached by Bradley 4 occasions (twice towards the Chargers, and as soon as every versus the Seahawks and Jaguars). He’s accomplished 71 % of his passes and averaged 357 passing yards in these video games. Yikes.
RUNNING BACK: A
Over the previous decade, just one staff — the 2015 Rams — allowed extra receiving yards to operating backs than the 2018 Chargers.
They should have recognized what was coming. Nonetheless, they have been ill-equipped to cease it.
James White went nuts for 15 receptions. The Patriots thrived within the display recreation. Forty-eight of White’s 97 yards got here on a pair of screens.
Sony Michel ran as decisively as he has all season. He flashed burst and imaginative and prescient on his 40-yard run, the longest of his rookie marketing campaign. He stored driving his legs via contact on a 5-yard landing.
The Chargers, woefully skinny at linebacker, performed six or seven defensive backs the entire recreation. That they had no reply when the Patriots went to ’21’ personnel, with James Develin and a halfback within the recreation. The Pats rushed 15 occasions for 101 yards, or 6.7 per carry, in that personnel grouping.
WIDE RECEIVER: A
Julian Edelman set the tone with Three:34 remaining within the first quarter, when he someway wiggled out of a joint deal with by Casey Hayward and Derwin James to show what ought to have been a third-and-Four into an unbelievable first down.
He drew a defensive maintain on Desmond King on a third-and-2 to increase a drive that led to a Rex Burkhead landing. He made a leaping, contested seize in visitors for 19 yards late within the second quarter.
On a third-and-6 from the 15-yard line within the second quarter, Edelman motioned from the boundary to a stack look with Phillip Dorsett. King and Hayward appeared to have hassle speaking how they’d deal with the look. Hayward adopted Edelman as he broke outdoors. King hesitated and took a step towards Edelman, too. Dorsett carried his route upfield and was uncovered for a 15-yard landing.
On his Monday morning WEEI interview, Tom Brady stated, “I think that was one of the best games (Edelman) has ever played, at the biggest moment. That’s when Julian is at his best — in the biggest moments.”
TIGHT END: B-plus
Rob Gronkowski caught a single cross for 25 yards, however he was nonetheless fairly near dominant.
The Patriots did a pleasant job utilizing Gronk’s large body to create room for different receivers. On the primary third down, Desmond King had the unattainable process of preventing round/by means of Gronk to get to Julian Edelman on a brief out-breaking route. On the subsequent third down, Gronkowski cleared area for James White as a lead blocker on a fast throw to the surface.
Gronkowski devoured Chargers within the operating recreation. He drove Derwin James to the sideline on a 5-yard Sony Michel run that in all probability ought to have been a loss. On Michel’s 40-yard run, Gronkowski helped Marcus Cannon block Melvin Ingram after which kicked out on linebacker Hayes Pullard.
Gronkowski drew a move interference in the long run zone to arrange the Patriots’ first landing.
His solely reception of the sport was a powerful one. He beat cornerback Michael Davis on a third-and-Four slant route, shrugged him off, then rumbled by means of security Rayshawn Jenkins.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A
The Chargers have been utterly overwhelmed on the level of assault.
There have been numerous examples of the Patriots’ dominance. We’ll take a look at one: Rex Burkhead’s 6-yard landing run.
David Andrews buried defensive deal with Justin Jones within the center. Trent Brown and Rob Gronkowski double-teamed Melvin Ingram and blew him off the ball. The 6-foot-Eight, 380-pound Brown stored driving Ingram backward into the top zone. Burkhead merely adopted the large fella.
Brown and Marcus Cannon shined all afternoon towards Ingram and Joey Bosa. Tom Brady was nearly untouched on his 44 dropbacks.
The inside of the Patriots’ line did an outstanding job of blocking on the second degree. On a 25-yard display cross to James White, Joe Thuney went low on security Adrian Phillips, creating an additional 20 yards. On a 23-yard display, Andrews and Shaq Mason respectively took care of Phillips and Jahleel Addae within the secondary. As a bonus, Mason inadvertently took out defensive deal with Damion Sq. as he tried to hop to his ft following the Addae block.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
The Patriots early-down protection put their move rushers in a positive place. As a result of Melvin Gordon couldn’t discover any area, the Chargers have been always in second-and-long or third-and-long.
That’s when the Patriots dialed up numerous stunts and twists to rattle Philip Rivers.
On a second-and-9 late within the first quarter, the Patriots confirmed a six-man rush, however Kyle Van Noy dropped out right into a shallow zone the second he engaged with left guard Dan Feeney.
Feeney was left blocking nobody. 5 rushers have been nonetheless coming. Adrian Clayborn was the one who was unblocked. He smashed Rivers because the quarterback launched a deep incompletion.
There have been a dozen comparable performs.
Trey Flowers recorded one sack and had one other wiped away by a roughing the passer penalty for going too low. Flowers additionally drew a maintain on Feeney (the play in all probability would have led to a sack) and pressured Rivers into a number of throwaways.
Adam Butler destroyed the inside of the Chargers line all recreation.
This was a throwback recreation from Dont’a Hightower, who utilized strain on Philip Rivers when deployed in a pass-rushing position.
On a third-and-10, because the Patriots used Trey Flowers as the only down lineman, Hightower stunted inside Van Noy and compelled a Rivers throwaway.
On a third-and-9, Van Noy leveled operating again Austin Ekeler as he got here out of the backfield and into his route. Hightower and Adam Butler pressured Rivers into one other incompletion.
John Simon recorded a strain and a run stuff, hitting Melvin Gordon three yards behind the road of scrimmage.
Elandon Roberts laid the most important hit of the sport in a objective line collision with Gordon.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B
Strong recreation, however they gave up too many huge performs for Invoice Belichick’s liking.
The Pats seemed to be in Cowl-Three on Keenan Allen’s lengthy landing catch. That meant Stephon Gilmore was chargeable for the deep a part of the sector on his aspect. He bit on Keenan Allen’s transfer inside, nevertheless. Allen continued upfield for a simple 43-yard landing.
Gilmore was additionally flagged for a defensive maintain versus Mike Williams on a 3rd down, resulting in a Chargers landing.
An All-Professional, Gilmore in any other case locked down Allen. He picked off Rivers within the fourth quarter.
Jason McCourty gave up a couple of lengthy receptions, together with a 32-yarder to Allen, an 18-yard reception to Mike Williams on third down, and completions of 26 and 29 yards to Tyrell Williams.
J.C. Jackson competed properly towards Mike Williams, who made a number of unbelievable catches. Jackson pressured a fumble after a Williams reception, however the assessment didn’t reveal a conclusive restoration.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus
Albert McClellan was fairly the midseason pickup.
McClellan tracked down a Desmond King muffed punt within the second quarter and gained possession simply earlier than he slid out of bounds. Jonathan Jones helped hold it inbounds.
Kickoff protection towards King was respectable. His longest return was 28 yards.
James Develin in all probability isn’t incomes a spot on the “hands” staff.
Perfect recreation from Josh McDaniels.
The Patriots knew they’d have a bonus towards the Chargers’ mild fronts. Additionally they knew that the center of the Los Angeles protection can be particularly reactive to play-action. The Chargers have been enjoying safeties at linebacker. Gamers like Jahleel Addae are accustomed to defending the deep a part of the sector. Addae doesn’t usually play so near the road of scrimmage. Playaction sucked in Addae and Adrian Phillips and allowed Julian Edelman to interrupt free for a 28-yard achieve down the center within the first quarter.
Sony Michel’s 14-yard landing run was an I-formation lead draw. On the printed, Tony Romo stated he sees the play “once every eight weeks” within the NFL.
Defensively, Invoice Belichick and Brian Flores weren’t shy about bringing additional rushers at Philip Rivers. They put the Chargers in troublesome down and distances and remained aggressive.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
Julian Edelman: Elevates his recreation in January. Because the 2014 season, Edelman averages 115.9 receiving yards in playoff video games. Within the common season, his common is 70.9.
Tom Brady: Did no matter he needed towards Gus Bradley’s protection.
Defensive entrance: Philip Rivers by no means appeared snug.
BACK OF THE PACK
Jason McCourty: Gave up too many huge performs.
Chris Hogan: Timing with Brady was off on a number of throws.