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Pats Whoop The Bolts 45-0

How strange has the New England Patriots’ journey to 6-6 been?

They ran the ball down the Chargers throats and built a 35-0 lead AND THEN started throwing the ball down field like the role of Bill Belichick was suddenly being played by Bruce Arians. Only the Patriots could throw deep up 35-0 and wouldn’t violate some unwritten rules in doing so.

Cam’s deep tosses were less threatening than the name Cody Davis (more on him later) but the deadly Stidham to Olszewski combo gave me “Black 54 Razor” Montana to Rice flashbacks. Though I’m pretty sure that Belichick started throwing the ball around the yard just to confuse Sean McVay on a short week.

My buddy Elijah texted me last week and said he’d like to see Matthew Slater have a big game, felt like he hadn’t heard his name a lot this season. I agreed that the perennial Pro Bowler (and future Hall of Famer in my book) hadn’t made his usual splashes on special teams as often this season.

The greatness of Matthew Slater though isn’t always in what he does, but what he doesn’t do. Case in point, Jake Bailey booted a beauty (say that 18 times fast) that landed inside the 3-yard line, Slater was the first player there and appeared that he could have batted it away from the goal line and pinned the Chargers inside their own 5. Slater did nothing as the ball rolled into the endzone for a touchback. Slater was vindicated as the replay rightfully showed that Slater had been forced out of bounds while running down the field on the kick and had he touched the ball it would have been illegal touching added onto the touchback. Smart play.

Then after a Chargers 3 & out, Slater threw a key block on Gunner Olszewski’s punt return touchdown. Two special teams plays that won’t be the two special teams plays that get replayed a million times on Monday, but helped set up the plays that will be.

Great to see Gunner get a house call to make up for the one that was taken away from him a week ago, better to see Cody Davis block the Chargers’ field goal attempt to end the first half and I accepted Devin McCourty’s subsequent “scoop & score” as a personal birthday present from the Patriots organization. (They all chipped in and it’s just what I wanted.)

Special teams was the star of the day, but not to be outdone, the defense was terrific. The front 7 made rookie Justin Herbert uncomfortable while the secondary did a helluva job on one of the best receiving corps in the league. If Gilmore played Hopkins to a draw last week vs Arizona, then today was a TKO of Keenan Allen.)

A couple of guys who stood out Anfernee Jenning is showing a lot of athleticism, Terez Hall who was activated off the practice squad a few days ago was around the ball all day, but once again it was the Michigan Men: Josh Uche and Chase Winovich who I was most impressed with. Keeping Uche away from your quarterback is going to be a perpetual issue for teams. Wearing #53, I’m getting Chris Slade vibes from Uche and I like it.

Winovich has had an interesting time in New England, he showed flashes last season of being the defensive equivalent of Gronk, and then started this year lingering around Belichick’s doghouse. It seems like the second year linebacker has emerged a better player because of it though and is now pulling down interceptions in coverage. (Winovich had ZERO picks in college. #Growth)

Sony Michel looked pretty good. The former first round running back looked fresh and had some burst at the line of scrimmage. It's easy to get frustrated with the Georgia product because of his inability to stay healthy for long stretches, but when he’s on the field he is capable of dominating. What could this offense look like the last 4 weeks of the season with Michel, Harris and White, not to mention Newton running the ball. This feels like an offense that James Develin and Dwayne Allen were born to play in and Dante Scarnecchia was born to coach the offensive line of.

The Patriots 45-0 destruction of the Chargers is the worst loss in Chargers team history. It feels like Belichick has had the Chargers’ number dating back to those “Marty Ball” teams 15-years ago. Today’s blowout though will likely cost head coach Anthony Lynn his job.

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