FOXBORO -- After a no-holds-barred first half in which the two offenses combined for 517 yards, things calmed down in the third quarter for the Patriots and Chargers.
The Pats' offense stopped almost completely, stalling at the Chargers' 37-yard line on its first drive and going three-and-out on its second. San Diego's offense was more productive, but Philip Rivers' second interception of the day -- this pick was by Sergio Brown at the New England 7 -- killed a Chargers scoring chance and enabled the Pats to take their 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
They'd built that lead on a pair of defense-to-offense scoring drives in the second quarter.
The New England defense completed its secondsuccessful goal-line stand of the young season, as linebacker JerodMayo stopped Mike Tolbert at the 1-yard on a fourth-and-goal from the1, preventing the Chargers from scoring and allowing New England tomaintain its 10-7 lead.
The Pats then went onoffense, and within two plays -- a 12-yard pass from Tom Brady to WesWelker, and a 30-yard completion from Brady to Chad Ochocinco -- werenear midfield. From there,they marched implacably downfield until Bradyhit Rob Gronkowski with a 10-yard touchdown pass that put the Pats infront, 17-7.
TheChargers had driven to the New England 29 in the final minute of thehalf, but Vince Wilfork deflected and intercepted a Philip Rivers pass-- his first career interception - and rumbled 28 yards into San Diegoterritory. A block-in-the-back penalty pushed the ball back to SanDiego 47, but Brady hit two quick passes to Deion Branch, of 11 and 7yards, that moved the Pats to the 29 with one second left. StephenGostkowski then drilled a 47-yard field goal as time expired, givingNew England a 20-7 lead.
Brady completed 20 of 23passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in thehalf.
New England had broken a 7-7 tie on a 23-yardGostkowski field early in the second quarter to move ahead, 10-7. ThePats had a first-and-goal of their own, at the San Diego 4, but wereunable to punch it in.
The teams had traded longscoring drives in the first quarter.
A 14-yardBrady-to-Aaron Hernandez touchdown pass with 6:16 to play in the periodcapped a 12-play, 92-yard drive that gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead. ButSan Diego tied it on its next possession, with a pair of acrobaticthird-down catches by Malcom Floyd -- one for 23 yards over the middleof the field that put the ball on the New England 40, and the other a36-yarder down the sideline that moved San Diego to the Pats' 10 -- setup a 10-yard touchdown run by Ryan Mathews, finishing off an 80-yardmarch.
ArtMartone can be reached at email@example.com.