Game updates: Patriots defeat Chargers 41-28 to advance to AFC Championship game


The Los Angeles Chargers play the New England Patriots in the NFL divisional playoffs. Join us for live updates and analysis.


Patriots defeat Chargers 41-28 to advance to AFC Championship game

The Chargers season ended at Gillette Stadium, as they fell to the Patriots 41-22 in the AFC divisional playoff. With the win, the Patriots advance to their eighth straight AFC Championship game, where they will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 3:45 p.m. The Patriots offense earned 498 total yards on offense to the Chargers’ 335 yards, to win convincingly. Phillip Rivers made two touchdown passes, giving him the most post-season touchdown passes in Chargers history.

Blake Richardson | 1:39 p.m.

Chargers trail Patriots 41-28 with less than a minute to play after touchdown catch by Antonio Gates

Antonio Gates caught Phillip Rivers’ eight-yard pass on the right side of the end zone, bringing the Chargers to trail the Patriots 41-28 with less than a minute to play, after a failed two-point conversion. The effort was too little too late, though, as the Patriots recovered the onside kick.

Blake Richardson | 1:36 p.m.

Stephon Gilmore intercepts Phillip Rivers with 4:12 to play

Aiming for Keenan Allen, Phillip Rivers threw a deep pass down the field, but Stephon Gilmore intercepted it, giving the Patriots possession with 4:12 left in the game. With the interception, Phillips’ 13th of the season, the Chargers’ chances at a comeback are all but out of reach. The Patriots defense limited Rivers to complete 18 of 40 throws for 254 yards.

Blake Richardson | 1:21 p.m.

Chargers trail Patriots 41-22 in 4th quarter after touchdown, 2-point conversion

After Phillip Rivers connected with Virgil Green for a touchdown pass, Rivers found Keenan Allen in the end zone for a 2-point conversion, bringing the Chargers to trail the Patriots 41-22 with less than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Chargers got in position with a deep catch by Allen, who has two receptions for 75 yards. Despite the score, the Chargers chance of a comeback this late is still unlikely, competing against a Patriots offense that has totaled 487 yards to far in the game.

Blake Richardson | 1:09 p.m.

Patriots extend lead to 41-14 with Stephen Gostkowski field goal

Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 30-yard field goal, giving the Patriots a 41-14 lead over the Chargers early in the fourth quarter. The field goal, and the three minutes it ate off the clock, further shrink the odds of the Chargers making this game competitive. On the drive, Tom Brady made his 227th complete without an interception in the postseason, setting an NFL record.

Blake Richardson | 12:46 p.m.

Melvin Gordon’s rushing touchdown leaves Chargers trailing Patriots 38-14 in final minutes of 3rd quarter

Melvin Gordon gave the Chargers their first score since the opening drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown, bringing the Chargers to trail the Patriots 38-14 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. The Chargers managed to narrow the Patriots lead somewhat, but approach the fourth quarter with a 24-point deficit, making a comeback this late a challenging task.

Blake Richardson | 12:31 p.m.

Chargers force Patriots to kick field goal for first time, Patriots take 38-7 lead in 3rd quarter

The Chargers finally managed to slow the Patriots somewhat, coming up with a red zone stop to force Stephen Gostkowski to make the 28-yard field goal, giving the Patriots a 38-7 lead. The Chargers allowed a fourth-down conversion by the Patriots to let them reach field-goal position, but that the Chargers prevented a touchdown is a promising sign at they look to spark a second-half comeback.

Blake Richardson | 12:15 p.m.

Patriots recover Chargers dropped punt reception, take 35-7 halftime lead

The Chargers defense finally forced the Patriots to punt, with a three-and-out, but Desmond King dropped the catch. The Patriots recovered possession on the Chargers’ 35-yard-line a huge blow to the Chargers as they trail the Patriots by 21. After the turnover, the Patriots scored another touchdown, taking a 35-7 lead at the half.

Blake Richardson | 11:30 a.m.

Rex Burkhead gives Patriots 28-7 lead with rushing touchdown

Every Patriots offensive drive has ended with a touchdown; the latest was a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Rex Burkhead, giving the Patriots a 28-7 lead with six minutes left in the first half. The Patriots run game has been just as unstoppable as its passing, with Sony Michel earning 95 rushing yards against the Chargers already. The last touchdown drive marked the first time all season the Chargers gave up three touchdowns in three possessions. Now, that number has risen to four. The Patriots have 287 net yards on offense, as Tom Brady has completed 80% of his throws.

Blake Richardson, Mike DiGiovanna | 11:16 a.m.

Patriots take 21-7 lead in 2nd quarter with 15-yard touchdown catch by Phillip Dorsett

Phillip Dorsett was wide open, darting into the end zone, when he caught Tom Brady’s throw, giving the Patriots a 21-7 lead over the Chargers at the start of the second quarter with a 15-yard play. Tom Brady already has 158 passing yards, the Patriots 205 total yards on offense, and the Chargers defense has had no success in stopping, or even slowing their attack. It helps that the Patriots are dominating possession time, with more than 13 minutes on offense compared to more than five minutes for the Chargers, leaving the Chargers defense fatigued and scrambling.

Blake Richardson | 11:01 a.m.

Sony Michel bolts 14 yards for touchdown, giving Patriots 14-7 lead in first quarter

Sony Michel darted down the right sideline and dove into the end zone, giving the Patriots a 14-7 lead with less than three minutes left in the first quarter. The Chargers defense appear to have no solution to slowing Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. They have forced just two incompletions by Brady, and the Patriots did not even need to attempt a third-down conversion on their second scoring drive. With a 14-yard catch and a 28-yard catch, Julian Edelmen was the spark of the drive. He has been targeted four times by Brady, catching three of those passes for 48 yards.

Blake Richardson | 10:44 a.m.

With Keenan Allen’s 43-yard touchdown reception, Chargers tie Patriots 7-7 in 1st quarter

Keenan Allen was wide open down the field when he caught Phillip Rivers’ 43-yard pass in the end zone, tying the Patriots at 7 with five minutes left in the first quarter. The drive started with a missed connection between Rivers and Mike Williams, but from there the offense ignited. Their production early will be crucial for the Chargers as the game goes on, especially with the defense’s early struggles to contain Tom Brady.

Blake Richardson | 10:36 a.m.

Patriots take 7-0 lead with rushing touchdown on opening drive

The Chargers defense had no answer for the Patriots offense as they drove 83 yards down the field, setting up a rushing touchdown on their opening drive. The Patriots ate more than seven minutes off the clock. The Chargers defense did not hurry Tom Brady once, as he completed seven of eight passes for 60 yards on the drive.

Blake Richardson | 10:23 a.m.

Adrian Phillips exits game with apparent arm injury

Safety Adrian Phillips left the game a few minutes into the first quarter with what appears to be a left arm injury; he did not move his left arm injury as he walked off the field to the locker room. Phillips went down on the Patriots’ opening drive, a costly loss for the Chargers defense as they try to contain Tom Brady.

Jeff Miller | 10:16 a.m.

Patriots hold moment of silence for Brandon Mebane’s daughter Makenna

Before the national anthem in Gillette Stadium, the Patriots held a moment of silence for Chargers defensive lineman Brandon Mebane’s daughter, Makenna. She died Jan. 3, at seven weeks old, after suffering from a rare chromosome disorder.

Mike DiGiovanna | 10:07 a.m.

Hunter Henry active when Chargers face Patriots

Tight end Hunter Henry will be active when the Chargers face the Patriots in the AFC divisional playoff round, the team announced. Henry was sidelined for the entire regular season after sustaining an ACL tear. The Chargers’ inactive players include Sean Culkin, Detrez Newsome, Cole Toner, Forrest Lamp, Dylan Cantrell, Anthony Lanier and T.Y. McGill.

Jeff Miller | 9:05 a.m.

Chargers will try to stare down history

It’s bad enough to be facing Brady and Belichick and Gronk and an uninviting Gillette Stadium, in which the New England Patriots have won this type of game nearly nine of out every 10 times.

Even more worrisome, the Chargers on Sunday will be matched against a Patriots history so rich with rings that this is how far the franchise has come: In his first Super Bowl start, Tom Brady was a 14-point underdog.

No, seriously. The greatest ever and his New England teammates were getting a full two touchdowns entering Super Bowl XXXVI. Then they beat the St. Louis Rams 20-17.

Four more championships later, it’s hard to remember Brady ever being anything but the favorite, season in and season out, from an unlikely goal-line interception to an impossible 25-point deficit, from inflated expectations to deflated footballs.

8:30 a.m. | Jeff Miller


Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are nearly unbeatable in the playoffs at home.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

That just how Rivers flowed