At least the Chargers have the best uniforms in the NFL.
That's about all that went well for Anthony Lynn's club on Sunday, as the Patriots delivered an absolutely commanding performance in all three phases of the game, starting their week in Los Angeles with a thoroughly impressive 45-0 beatdown of an overmatched Chargers squad. With the win, the Patriots are back at .500 for the first time in two months at 6-6.
You want offense? Quibble all you want about the Patriots' aerial attack, which isn't going to make opposing secondaries lose sleep at night -- but the ground game led by Damien Harris continues to be a force. The second-year back had 80 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, Sony Michel returned to the lineup with 58 total yards, and Cam Newton (69 pass yards, 48 rush yards, 2 TD) became the first quarterback in NFL history to have four games with multiple rushing touchdowns in the same season.
How about defense? Going up against a Bill Belichick defense, Justin Herbert turned in his worst effort as a pro... by a long shot. Both Chase Winovich and J.C. Jackson came up with interceptions and the Patriots also sacked the rookie three times.
We can't forget about New England's special teams, which continued to live up to its name with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns. Gunner Olszewski took a punt back for one score, while Cody Davis blocked a last-second Michael Badgley field goal attempt which Devin McCourty took to the house for the first half exclamation point.
About the only thing that didn't go the Patriots' way Sunday was that they failed to make up any ground on the Dolphins, Raiders and Colts in the AFC playoff race -- but their week in L.A. got off to a great start, especially considering the quick turnaround before their Week 14 contest -- a Thursday night contest against the Rams, also at SoFi Stadium.
FINAL SCORE: Patriots 45, Chargers 0
PATRIOTS RECORD: 6-6
The Patriots start strong, with a 13-play (3 pass, 10 runs), 75-yard drive capped by a Cam Newton 1-yard score, his 10th rushing TD of the season, the third season with 10+ rushing TDs of his career, more than any other QB.
After seeing a punt return TD wiped off the board thanks to a penalty last week, Gunner Olszewski makes this one stand up, a 70-yard return that gave the Patriots a 14-0 lead and had his teammates sending congratulations on Twitter.
Right before halftime, Newton adds to his rushing touchdown tally with a two-yard score, his 10th career game with multiple rushing touchdowns.
Just when the Chargers looked like they could go into halftime with some momentum, their special teams fails them (a recurring theme Sunday) with Cody Davis blocking the Michael Badgley attempt and Devin McCourty making it a 28-0 game at the half. The Patriots' last game with both a punt return TD and a blocked field goal TD? The 2001 AFC Championship Game.
You know things are going well on offense when N'Keal Harry is contributing. Even though he finished with just two receptions for 15 yards, one of his catches was this 5-yard score.
While the Patriots offense was putting up the points, Justin Herbert was having all sorts of issues trying to figure out the New England defense, as both Chase Winovich (his first career INT) and J.C. Jackson (his seventh INT of the season, second in the league) came up with interceptions.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, the Patriots turned to Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter -- and he connected with Olszewski for his only catch of the game, a 38-yard score -- the first receiving TD of his career.
Thursday, Dec. 10: at L.A. Rams, 8:20 p.m. (FOX, NFL Network)
Sunday, Dec. 20: at Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 28: vs. Bills, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)