Pa­tri­ots spank Charg­ers, 41-28

L.A. finds foot­ing too late; New Eng­land moves to AFC ti­tle game in Kansas City

The Welland Tribune - - Sports - KYLE HIGHTOWER

FOXBOR­OUGH, MASS. — Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and had three touch­downs as the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots beat the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers, 41-28, in the Na­tional Foot­ball League’s di­vi­sional play­offs Sun­day.

New Eng­land (12-5) will play at Kansas City in next week’s AFC ti­tle game. The Pa­tri­ots beat the Chiefs, 43-40, at their home sta­dium in Foxbor­ough, north of Prov­i­dence, R.I., in Week 6. The Pa­tri­ots fin­ished 9-0 at home this sea­son.

It is the 13th con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ance by the Pa­tri­ots dur­ing the Tom BradyBill Belichick era.

“It’s go­ing to be a good game,” Brady said of the re­match with the Chiefs. “They’re a good team. We played them ear­lier this year. I know ev­ery­body thinks we suck and, you know, we can’t win any games, so we’ll see. It’ll be fun.”

The Charg­ers, new to Los An­ge­les from San Diego, haven’t reached the AFC ti­tle game since the 2007 sea­son.

Charg­ers quar­ter­back Philip Rivers fin­ished 25 of 51 for 331 yards, three touch­downs and an in­ter­cep­tion. He is 0-5 in games played in Foxbor­ough, in­clud­ing 0-3 in the post-sea­son.

Brady fin­ished 34 of 44 for 343 yards and a touch­down. He im­proves to 8-0 as a starter against Rivers, who drops to 1-8 against New Eng­land all-time.

James White tied Dar­ren Spro­les’ NFL post-sea­son record with 15 catches, to­talling 97 yards.

New Eng­land scored on its first four pos­ses­sions of the game to build a 35-7 half­time lead.

Ju­lian Edel­man had nine catches for 151 yards.

The Charg­ers added three touch­downs in the sec­ond half, but it was much too late.

Los An­ge­les lost for just the sec­ond time on the road and first time out­side Los An­ge­les this sea­son. In its past four trips to the play­offs, Los An­ge­les has lost in the di­vi­sional round.

“We dug our­selves a hole in the first half,” Charg­ers coach An­thony Lynn said. “One game doesn’t de­fine where we are as a foot­ball team.”

Rivers seemed poised to keep Los An­ge­les in the game, con­nect­ing with Keenan Allen for a 43-yard score on Los An­ge­les’ first of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion. It was the long­est touch­down of Allen’s ca­reer, in­clud­ing the post-sea­son.

It turned out to be just a blip. The Charg­ers punted the four other times they had the ball in the first half.

The Pa­tri­ots were ef­fi­cient through­out the open­ing 30 min­utes, go­ing 5 for 5 in the red zone, 5 of 6 on third down and com­mit­ting only one penalty.

New Eng­land didn’t go three­and-out for the first time un­til its fifth of­fen­sive touch of the day when it punted with 3:32 left in the sec­ond quar­ter.

But Ryan Allen’s 48-yard punt was fum­bled by Des­mond King, send­ing the ball rolling to­ward the side­line. The ref­er­ees ruled the ball went out of bounds be­fore New Eng­land’s Al­bert McClellan ap­peared to re­cover it. But the play was re­versed after a chal­lenge by Bill Belichick.

The turnover was costly. Pa­tri­ots scored four plays later.

ADAM GLANZMAN GETTY IMAGES

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots scored early and of­ten. Here, Sony Michel makes a touch­down. Michel ran for 129 yards and had three touch­downs.

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