The Patriots dominated the Chargers right from the first snap. This was without a doubt the most complete performance of the season so far for New England. The second quarter is where the Patriots really began to separate themselves. Two special teams touchdowns and a two-yard rushing touchdown from Cam put the Pats up 28-0 at the half.
Welcome To The “Gun Show”
Second-year wide receiver Gunner Olszewski has been a fan favorite since he arrived as an undrafted rookie out of Bemidji State last season. He has mainly been making a small impact on the return game and was criticized for his performances a couple of weeks ago by the media. He was taken off kick returns, now held by Donte Moncrief who had a great return last week.
But over the past two weeks now, Gunner has been showing out. He should have had an 82-yard return touchdown last week, but it was called back due to a bad penalty. This week, he finally got that score. He took a punt back 70 yards, barely getting touched at all. Gunner then nearly brought another one back later on in the game. He had three punt returns in this game for 145 yards, averaging 48.3 yards a return.
He also led the Patriots in receiving yards with a 38-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. He is following a similar path that Julian Edelman did at the start of his career, but only time will tell if Gunner will blossom into that.
Cam And The Offense
The offense in this game was efficient, and they were really not forced to go out of their comfort zone at all. Newton only threw for 69 yards and a touchdown, but that was all that was needed today. The running game was very effective. Cam had 48 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Damien Harris had 80 yards on 16 carries as well. This is an offense that depends on running the ball.
Running the ball is Cam Newton’s strength. He has 11 rushing touchdowns this season and has shown he can throw when needed. He isn’t throwing to the most talented group of receivers, and even though he has had throws get away, not all the blame is on him. Patriots fans have had Tom Brady for 20 years, and every time he ran the ball, an angel would get its wings. Now it is an expectation that Cam runs it, and he is doing fine. Also, New England has won four out of their last five, so it is working. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Defense And Special Teams Star
The Patriots shut out the Chargers and strong play from Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, and Adrian Phillips helped keep LA at zero. Winovich had his first career interception and two QB hits. He has only gotten better and better since being drafted in the third round in 2019. Rookie Josh Uche played his best game so far. He did not register a tackle, but he was constantly in Herbert’s face all game. Every time Herbert dropped back, Uche was coming for him. Adrian Phillips led the team in tackles again with 12, and he had a very strong showing against his former team.
The blocked field goal at the end of the first half by Cody Davis was huge. The Chargers could have at least gotten on the board and been down 21-3 going into the half and receiving at the start of the third. But the block by Davis and the return by McCourty put New England up 28-0, really ending any chance the Chargers had.
One Game At A Time
The Patriots have been hot as of late, and the team’s performances have only gotten better. This was a game you expected to win, but not this convincingly. They now move to 6-6, still on the outside looking in. It would have helped massively if Houston finished off the Colts and the Jets weren’t obviously tanking. But with a 21% chance at the playoffs, it is unlikely, but still possible.
The Patriots stay in LA next week as they take on the Rams on Thursday night. The Rams just beat Arizona yesterday and are looking at an NFC West title, so they will not be rolling over easy. This one will be difficult for New England, but if they replicate what they did yesterday, then the sky is the limit. On to Los Angeles, part 2.