FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from what transpired between the Patriots and Chargers on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium . . .
1) The Patriots were not going to let Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram beat them. When they threw, Tom Brady got the football out of his hands quickly. Fifteen of his 26 first-half pass attempts went to running backs and tight ends. Even when the wideouts were involved, they were mostly quick-hitters. Brandin Cooks was targeted seven times in the first half with several throws sent his way on slants and crossing routes. Cooks even had a screen set his way...which went for a two-yard loss on New England's first drive. Brady had plenty of time on a flea-flicker and went to Cooks deep down the middle of the field in double-coverage instead of Chris Hogan, who was wide open going across the field.
PATRIOTS 21, CHARGERS 13
2) Keeping Bosa and Ingram in check got a lot tougher in te second quarter when Marcus Cannon left the game with an ankle injury. LaAdrian Waddle replaced the 2016 All-Pro and seemed to handle himself well during his team's two-minute drill at the end of the first half. That continued into the second half as Waddle seemed to deal relatively well with two of the game's top-10 pass-rushers. Ingram did good work attacking the middle of the line, while Bosa seemed to have the majority of his hurries come from the left side.
3) The Patriots came onto the field for their two-minute drill with two tight ends, and neither was named Dwayne Allen. With Brady set to throw, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels went with Rob Gronkowski and Jacob Hollister. Brady targeted Hollister on the first throw of the drive, picking up 13 yards. Allen still doesn't have a catch this season.
4) Malcolm Butler seemed to be confused on the coverage when Travis Benjamin got behind him in the fourth quarter to make the score 18-13. The Patriots appeared to be playing zone, and Butler made it look like he was under the impression he had the hook-flat area. When Benjamin ran by him, Butler read Philip Rivers' throw and tried to catch up, but he was too late. Should it have been Devin McCourty in that deep half of the field? Or did Butler play it incorrectly? Hard to tell, but the communication issues in the secondary -- though fewer and farther between -- haven't been totally eradicated.
5) The Patriots rotated through their linebacker group with Dont'a Hightower out. Everyone got a shot. Some more than others. Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy got the start at the second level, while David Harris was relied upon more than Trevor Reilly and Marquis Flowers. Harris was used at times coming up the field on pressures, and he flushed Rivers from the pocket when Rivers inexplicably fumbled in the third quarter and lost 20 yards. Harris also seemed to help blow up a Chargers screen late in the third. Two solid weeks in a row for the veteran linebacker.