The New England Patriots demolished the Los Angeles Chargers in a 45-0 effort in this afternoon’s match up. The Patriots dominated all three aspects of the game today, and really showed how much of a difference maker Bill Belichick can be. The Chargers have a ton of offensive talent, but it all got put to waste, as Anthony Lynn and co. were thoroughly outmatched in this one.
For the second week straight, the special teams unit put in work. Gunner Olszewski continues to be a revelation as the punt returner, as he had one touchdown and another that was probably 15 yards short. The Chargers seemed to be picking up momentum towards the end of the first half, but had their field goal blocked by Cody Davis, and then returned to the house by Devin McCourty. The Patriots special teams dominance was easy to spot against one of the worst units in the league.
As good as the Patriots played, this really felt like a display of utter incompetence by the Chargers today. Anytime they could have made a charge back into the game they just shot themselves in the foot. They had a penalty on a 3rd and 19, and one on 4th and 5 when the Pats were set up to punt. Both resulted in first downs, and are just rookie mistakes. It’s one of the things we as Patriots fans take for granted when watching a Bill Belichick coached team, because those things rarely ever happen under his watch.
On the other hand, the Patriots finally beat a team they were supposed to beat handily. After squeaking out a win versus the New York Jets, and coughing up the game versus the Houston Texans, the Patriots finally crushed a team they were definitely better than. It feels like the team is finally rounding into form, and at the perfect time. The defense was able to shut down a high profile offense, and the offense was moving the ball efficiently no matter where they were on the field.
The one part of the offense that had fallen off the grid was Cam Newton’s involvement in the running game, and it finally came back today. Newton is at his best when the defense isn’t sure if he is going to hand it off or keep it. It certainly keeps the defense on its toes, and made a world of a difference once he got it going in this one. It also helps make the play actions more effective when they are called upon, although Newton rarely had to air it out due to the nature of the game.
Now the Patriots have their biggest game of the season coming up versus the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday. At 6-6, the Patriots are two games out from a wild card spot, but will have a chance to make up some ground, specifically on the Miami Dolphins (they play the Kansas City Chiefs next weekend, and then the Pats later on, which could be a huge game). The Rams have a high profile defense that has shut down many offenses this season. The battle to watch will be how Jared Goff fares against Bill Belichick’s defense game plan. Belichick stifled Goff in the Super Bowl a couple years back, so he obviously has a tried and true formula to slow down the offense. If the defense can stay in form, the ball will be in Cam Newton’s hands to see whether this team can make a late surge towards a wildcard spot. The Patriots seem to be hitting their stride, and now it’s time to capitalize.