Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes,
BenJarvus Green-Ellis added a score on the ground and the New England Patriots
opened the home portion of their 2011 schedule with a 35-21 victory over the
San Diego Chargers.
Coming off a franchise-best 517 yards through the air last Monday in Miami,
Brady finished with "only" 423 yards against San Diego while converting 31-
Brady completed at least one throw to seven different receivers, with Deion
Branch amassing 129 yards on eight grabs. Rob Gronkowski caught four balls for
86 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"We stalled a little in the third quarter, but overall I thought we moved the
ball pretty well, again, against a good defensive group," said Patriots head
coach Bill Belichick.
Green-Ellis gained 70 yards on 17 carries for New England (2-0), which has yet
to lose a home opener at Gillette Stadium. The facility opened prior to the
Philip Rivers recorded 378 yards on 29-of-40 passing, but committed three of
San Diego's four turnovers.
Vincent Jackson had 172 yards and two touchdowns on 10 receptions for the
Chargers (1-1), who outlasted Minnesota last week.
New England's first drive of the game began from its own eight-yard line. The
Patriots converted a trio of third downs, and Brady capped the 12-play march
with a 14-yard scoring strike to Aaron Hernandez.
San Diego quickly countered when Ryan Mathews scampered for a 10-yard TD run.
New England's next possession bled into the second quarter and stalled at the
Chargers' four. A 22-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal put the Patriots up
Rivers then led San Diego inside the five-yard line. But the Patriots' defense
made a goal-line stand, wrapping up bruising back Mike Tolbert at the one on
Last week, Brady and Wes Welker connected on a 99-yard touchdown pass, tying
the NFL record for the longest play. The duo didn't hook up this time, but
Brady did orchestrate a 10-play drive from the shadow of his own end zone.
Gronkowski's first TD -- a 10-yarder -- capped the lengthy march and made it
The Chargers moved into enemy territory again with under two minutes remaining
before halftime. New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork thwarted the
potential scoring drive, hauling in a deflected pass for his first career
interception. A pair of Brady throws to Branch set up Gostkowski's 47-yard
field goal on the final play of the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, which included Rivers' second interception,
Jackson reeled in a pass with one hand for a three-yard TD.
New England faced a 4th-and-four at the San Diego 49 on its next series and
opted to keep the offense on the field following a knee injury to punter
Brady's pass to Branch fell incomplete, but Tolbert fumbled on the subsequent
drive. Four plays later, Gronkowski came down in the end zone with a 17-yard
touchdown with 8:40 left. A two-point conversion gave New England a 28-14
San Diego needed only three minutes to move 80 yards in eight plays, and
closed to within a touchdown on Rivers' 26-yard scoring strike to Jackson.
Green-Ellis sealed the win with a 16-yard TD run inside of two minutes.
The Chargers' final possession ended with Rivers fumbling.
"New England is obviously an outstanding football team and we didn't play well
enough to come into this stadium and win today," said San Diego head coach
New England set a team record with its 10th straight regular season game with
30 or more points...Brady recorded his 29th consecutive win as a starter in
the regular season at home, extending an NFL record...The Patriots were the
only team in the league to finish undefeated at home in 2010...Welker caught
seven passes for 81 yards. He has registered at least one reception in 63
straight regular season games, tying Ben Coates' club record...San Diego
converted 10-of-12 third downs...The Patriots racked up 504 yards of total
offense to 470 for the Chargers.
09/18 21:40:30 ET
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