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Sunday, 29 October 2017 15:45

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: New England Patriots Defeat Los Angeles Chargers 21-13

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INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: New England Patriots Defeat Los Angeles Chargers 21-13 Image via AP, Steven Senne

In their final game before their bye week, the New England Patriots looked to continue their strong play in October with a tilt against the Los Angeles Chargers.

After having their best performance of the season last week against the Atlanta Falcons, the New England Patriots (6-2) found themselves home against the surging Los Angeles Chargers (3-5). Both teams entered Sunday riding three game winning streaks. The Patriots had been playing their best football of the first half of the season prior to this game. It was more of the same for New England as they continued their strong play.


1. Defense - After having an attrocious defensive unit during the first quarter of the season, the unit has rebounded nicely in the second quarter. It was a second consecutive game for the defense in which they allowed less than 400 total yards of offense. Los Angeles mustered 349 yards of total offense, 157 of which game from the rushing game. Eighty seven of those 157 yards came on one carry.


2. Pass Defense - Another week, another good effort from the Patriots pass defense. They limited the Chargers to only 192 yards through the air, by far the best effort from the New England pass defense all season. The only pass touchdown that they allowed came on a blown coverage by Malcolm Butler in which he failed to get a jam at the line of scrimmage on Travis Benjamin. 


3. Running Backs - Perhaps this was due to the Chargers stout pass rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, but the running backs of the Patriots were heavily featured in the passing game. James White had five catches for 85 yards while Rex Burkhead had seven catches for 68 yards. Focusing on the running backs in the passing game allowed Tom Brady to get rid of the ball without facing much pressure from the pass rush.


4. Offensive Line - Much was made about the duo of Ingram and Bosa coming into the game. For the most part, both players were neutralized in the victory. Ingram didn't even make contact with Brady until late in the fourth quarter. Bosa did sack Brady, but for the most part he was a non factor. The much maligned Nate Solder had perhaps his best game of the season.


5. Pass Rush - I'm sorry, what I meant was lack of pass rush. New England had exactly zero sacks in this game. Trey Flowers did muster some pressure late in the game when Los Angeles was throwing the ball more. This situation is one to watch with the trade deadline coming on Tuesday. The lack of a pass rush could be a back breaker as the season goes on. Seeing a game without a sack could be the straw that breaks the camel's back and causes the Patriots to go shopping for a pass rusher.


6. Misleading Stats - A quick look at the box score will say that Chargers running back Melvin Gordon had a very good game on the ground. That couldn't be further from the truth. The box score reads that Gordon had 14 carries for 132 yards (9.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown. However, 87 of those 132 yards came on one carry. Take that carry out and he had 13 carries for 45 yards, around 3.4 yards per carry which is actually below his career average of 3.7 yards per carry. Despite Gordon's one long rush, the New England rush defense had another strong game, without Malcom Brown in the middle. 


Extra Point


Standing strong at 6-2, the Patriots now enter the bye week. This couldn't have come at a better time for New England. With all the injuries they have sustained through this point in the year, they will now have a whole week to recover without having to worry about a game. It will also give Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia tme to figure out how to fill the loss of Dont'a Hightower. If no trade is made for a linebacker or pass rusher, it will also give the two time to figure out how to create more of a pass rush and figure out the depth at linebacker. 

Billy Wyatt

Billy Wyatt is a New England Patriots beat reporter for CLNS Radio. Now covering the Patriots for multiple seasons, Billy is a veteran journalist at CLNSRadio.com A graduate of the University of Hartford with a communications degree, Billy’s prior experience was as a sports writer for the Hartford Informer.You can reach Billy via e-mail at bwyatt_91@yahoo.com. And you can follow him on Twitter @Billy_NFL.