Patriots

AFC: Chargers send Broncos to first shutout loss in 25 years, 21-0

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AFC: Chargers send Broncos to first shutout loss in 25 years, 21-0

CARSON, Calif. - Travis Benjamin returned a first-quarter punt 65 yards for a touchdown and caught a 42-yard TD pass in the fourth, and the Los Angeles Chargers played a dominant defensive game in the first home victory of their relocation season, 21-0 over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Joey Bosa had two of the Chargers' five sacks while they sent the Broncos (3-3) to the franchise's first shutout defeat since a 24-0 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders on Nov. 22, 1992.

Philip Rivers passed for 183 yards in his 100th victory, hitting Austin Ekeler for an early TD and Benjamin for the late clincher.

The Chargers (3-4) have won three straight under new coach Anthony Lynn following a winless opening month in their first season back in Los Angeles after 56 years in San Diego.

Trevor Siemian passed for 207 yards, but Denver lost to the Chargers for just the third time in the AFC West rivals' past 14 meetings - and did so in historic fashion.

The Broncos, who have never been shut out at home, might have been able to preserve their non-shutout streak with long field goals in the fourth quarter. But coach Vance Joseph went for it twice on fourth down and ended up with an interception and a turnover on downs.

The Chargers had lost seven consecutive home games since last November, and they hadn't won a home game as the LA Chargers since Dec. 18, 1960.

But the Bolts largely dominated the Broncos, who have lost three of four with a flagging offense that has managed three touchdowns in four games. Los Angeles also avenged its season-opening loss in Denver on a blocked field goal at the end.

The Chargers forced a turnover on Denver's opening drive and advanced to the Broncos 1, but failed to punch it in on four straight running plays. Undeterred, the Los Angeles defense got a stop - and Benjamin allowed one big bounce before scampering down the middle for the Chargers' first punt return for a TD since 2012.

That was only the Chargers' second touchdown of the season in a first quarter, where they had been outscored 50-7.

Neither offense accomplished much in the first half, but Ekeler caught a 1-yard swing pass from Rivers for a TD in the second quarter, capping a 65-yard drive and staking Los Angeles to 14-0 halftime lead.

That was the Chargers' biggest lead in their past 14 games, but they missed plenty of opportunities to make it bigger. Along with that game-opening failure at the 1, Jahleel Addae and Jatavis Brown both dropped easily catchable interceptions on passes from Siemian, who was under constant pressure from the Chargers' pass-rushing duo, Melvin Ingram and Bosa.

Benjamin got open across the middle late in the fourth quarter and took off for his second touchdown catch with the Chargers.

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on it’s own feel, it’s own flavor and - eventually - it’s own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: