Last year, a 4th down call in their own territory led to an Indianapolis Colts victory and a few weeks of talk-radio debate. A similar call today gave Patriots fans from coast-to-coast more 4th-quarter excitement than they bargained for.
The Patriots escaped San Diego with a 23-20 victory as Kris Brown’s kick clanged off the right upright with under a minute to go.
Tom Brady and the offense failed to convert on the majority of the Chargers first-half gaffes, including three fumbles and an interception by Devin McCourty, the first during his rookie season.
A different offense emerged in the second half, powering the Patriots to a 23-6 lead in the 4th quarter. However, behind some great throws by Philip Rivers and a great onside kick, the Chargers cut the lead to 23-20 with 4 minutes to play.
At midfield, facing a 4th and 1, Coach Belichick elected to run Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis over left tackle to try and seal the game. Green-Ellis was stuffed, setting up an incredible finish.
Here are our Gameballs and Goats for tonight – you can hear more about them on Patriots Insider Radio tonight at 9pm eastern.
Undrafted Free Agents - Dane Fletcher forced a fumble, made some solid tackles, and even recovered some sort of kickoff attempt. Danny Woodhead was again a nuisance for the oppposition, while Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis scored in his 4th straight game. All budding starts, all undrafted – the Patriot way.
2nd Half Offense - The modus operandi so far this season has been for the Patriots to have a vastly improved offense in the 2nd half. That certainly held true today as they needed each of the 13 points scored after halftime.
Patriots Mental Discipline - Two turnovers were created by Patriots not quitting on plays that the Chargers did. Rob Ninkovich and James Sanders each capitalized on mental mistakes by the Chargers.
Honorable Mentions: The right upright, Stephen Gostkowski
Gary Guyton - For a linebacker who has built his reputation based on playing fast – he certainly looked slow today. He routinely failed to break down in open space – beaten easily by a hobbled Antonio Gates and left grasping air by the admittedly quick Darren Sproles. Guyton certainly wasn’t at his best today.
Jake Ingram – We have been harping on the long-snapper all year. Due to Zoltan Mesko’s athleticism and hands there hasn’t been a major gaffe yet, but the bad snaps just keep on coming.
Matt Light – The Patriots left tackle had his worst game of the year, giving up multiple sacks and allowing constant pressure on Tom Brady. Antwan Barnes shouldn’t be looking like a Shawne Merriman from five years ago.