Patriots

AFC EAST: Dolphins hold on to spoil Chargers' LA debut, 19-17

dolphins_chargers_091717.jpg

AFC EAST: Dolphins hold on to spoil Chargers' LA debut, 19-17

CARSON, Calif. - Cody Parkey hit his fourth field goal from 54 yards with 1:05 to play, and the Miami Dolphins rallied in the fourth quarter to spoil the Los Angeles Chargers' home opener with a 19-17 victory Sunday.

Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 5 seconds left after Philip Rivers maneuvered the Chargers (0-2) into scoring range in the final minute before a crowd of 25,381 in their first home game since relocating to the Los Angeles area after 56 seasons in San Diego.

Jay Cutler passed for 230 yards and Jay Ajayi rushed for 122 in the delayed season opener for the Dolphins, who spent the past nine days in California after leaving South Florida early to avoid Hurricane Irma. Parkey did most of their scoring, connecting from 30, 28 and 35 yards before burying his longest kick in the waning moments.

Rivers passed for 331 yards, and Antonio Gates set an NFL record with his 112th touchdown reception as a tight end.

Rivers and the Chargers moved 54 yards in 52 seconds to set up Koo, whose potential game-tying field goal was blocked in Denver last week. The undrafted rookie kicker pushed this one barely right.

Kenny Stills caught a 29-yard TD pass in the third quarter from Cutler, who went 24 of 33 without an interception in his Dolphins debut.

Parkey's 35-yard field goal trimmed Los Angeles' lead to one point with 6:28 to play, and Miami's defense held. The Dolphins got the ball back with 3:02 left, and Cutler got them into position for another big kick from Parkey, the Jupiter, Florida, native claimed off waivers two weeks ago.

The Dolphins were well-rested after their home opener against Tampa Bay was postponed, leaving them to play their latest season opener since 1977.

The Chargers' latest last-minute loss dampened the festivities around a fresh start for the franchise, which brought five members of its inaugural 1960 Los Angeles Chargers to its temporary home at 27,000-seat StubHub Center, which was packed with a lively mix of both opponents' fans.

Gates broke his tie with Tony Gonzalez on an 8-yard throw from Rivers in the third quarter. Melvin Gordon scored the Chargers' first touchdown in their new home from 1 yard in the second quarter to cap a 70-yard drive, but both teams struggled to put together sustained scoring marches.

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

MORE PATRIOTS:

Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE