FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- — In weather that tormented the offenses, at least the Los Angeles Chargers had their kicking game to fall back on.
Cameron Dicker made a pair of 38-yard field goals, and punter JK Scott pinned the Patriots inside their 20 yard-line seven times in a cold and drenching rain on Sunday to give the Chargers a 6-0 victory over the New England Patriots and their latest hapless quarterback, Bailey Zappe.
“There weren’t going to be any style points today. I wasn’t expecting it to be a high-scoring affair,” Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley said. “Sometimes the games are a track meet, 41-38. Sometimes, hey, it was a game like today, 6-0. You have to do what it takes to win.”
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Los Angeles (5-7) and sent the Patriots to their fifth consecutive loss. New England (2-10) benched quarterback Mac Jones in favor of Zappe, but still lost its fifth in a row and surrendered their second home shutout of a season for the first time in franchise history.
It was the third time in a row that the Patriots gave up 10 or fewer points — and lost. They are the first team to do that since the 1938 Chicago Cardinals.
“We’re close and in close games. The defense is hanging us in there. We’ve got to find a way to score some points,” tight end Hunter Henry said. “We haven’t held up our share of the bargain, obviously.”
But the Chargers had just 29 rushing yards and the only scoring they could manage was a pair of 38-yard field goals in the second quarter.
Instead, they relied on Scott, who punted eight times, with one touchback, and helped limit the Patriots to an average starting position of their 13 yard yard-line.
In 11 possessions, New England started inside the 13 seven times — four of them inside the 9, including once at the 2.
“To have a guy like that who’s able to flip the field, especially in a game that’s as tight as this, it’s super helpful for our team to be able to pin someone back like that," said Herbert, who completed 22 of 37 passes. “He did a great job today.”
Playing in a cold and steady downpour in front of a half-empty stadium, the Patriots continued their joyless decline from one of the NFL’s most-decorated dynasties to a bumbling mélange of mediocrity.
After sticking with Jones for 11 games — long after it became clear he could not win games — New England coach Bill Belichick turned to Zappe and got the same result: a loss that left the team with the worst record in the AFC.
Zappe was sacked five times — two by Khalil Mack, giving him a career-high 15 for the season and 99 in his career. In all, Zappe was 13 for 25 for 141 yards; he did avoid an interception for the first time in three games, the previous two in relief of Jones.
Coming off 10-6 and 10-7 losses, the Patriots defense kept them in it until the end for the third straight game. After a punt that left them starting at the 13 just before the two-minute warning, Zappe advanced New England to near midfield before throwing three straight incompletions. (One of them was a 45-yarder that DeVante Parker caught before landing on the sideline.)
After taking over on downs, Herbert found Alex Erickson for a 23-yard gain on third-and-11 to allow the Chargers to run out the clock.
“The defense played great. The offense starts with me,” Zappe said. ”I’ve got to get things going.”
Trailing 3-0 at the first-half two-minute warning, and starting from their 13, the Patriots went: incomplete pass, run for minus-1 yard, false start penalty, incomplete pass, punt that was returned for 34 yards to set up another Chargers field goal.
It was the first time since 1993 that the Patriots failed to score in the first half in back-to-back games, ESPN tweeted. It came after a week in which their game against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs — and Taylor Swift boyfriend Travis Kelce — was flexed out of "Monday Night Football," a first in for the NFL.
And the shivering crowd let them have it, with the first of several choruses of boos.
“It’s a very simple game: You’ve got to score points,” Patriots center David Andrews said. “You’ve got to score points to have a chance to win.”
Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson injured his ankle and cornerback Shaun Wade, who had an illness, left in the first half. Stevenson left after fumbling at 4:13 of the first quarter. New England’s top rusher had 39 yards on nine carries before committing the lone turnover of the first half.
Chargers: Host Denver on Sunday.
Patriots: Play the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
- Bill Vinovich
- Mark Perlman
- Jimmy Buchanan
- Jimmy Russell
- Joe Blubaugh
- Alex Moore
- Dale Keller