On Sunday the New England Patriots took on the Los Angeles Chargers. New England came into Week eight with a 5-2 record and sole possession of first place in the AFC East. Los Angeles entered Week eight with a 3-4 record, tied with the Oakland Raiders for last place in the AFC West. Both teams brought three game winning steaks into Sunday’s game. Below are three takeaways from the Patriots Week eight 21-13 win over the Chargers.
Week Eight New England Patriots Takeaways
Chris Hogan Injured
Chris Hogan has been a solid contributor for the Patriots this season with 28 receptions on 47 targets for 378 yards and five touchdowns. But with 3:21 left in the game on Sunday Hogan injured his right shoulder on a play that also left Chargers linebacker Hayes Pullard III shaken up. Hogan finally got to his feet but really favored his right arm on his way to the bench. He then ended up going to the locker room and did not return.
Julian Edelman is already out for the season so losing another receiver for an extended period of time could be a big hit to the Patriots offense. However, the Patriots do have a bye next week which will give Hogan extra time to get that shoulder healthy. The Patriots also are very adept at spreading the ball around, as they did on Sunday, but they would like Hogan to return sooner rather than later.
Balanced Attack on Offense
New England had a balanced offensive attack against Los Angeles on Sunday and that allowed them to control the ball. In the first half the Patriots ran 40 plays to the Chargers 19. For the entire game the Patriots ran the ball 32 times and threw the ball 47 times, which is pretty balanced, for a total of 79 plays, to the Chargers 51.
New England gained 97 yards on the ground and 333 yards through the air. Dion Lewis had 15 carries for 44 yards and Mike Gillislee had 11 rushes for 34 yards. But the New England backs were involved in the passing game too. James White had five catches for 85 yards and Rex Burkhead had seven receptions for 68 yards.
But Brady spread the ball around, getting his wide receivers and tight end, Rob Gronkowski, the ball too. Chris Hogan had five catches for 60 yards, Gronk had five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown and Brandin Cooks contributed five catches for 26 yards. At the end of the day eight different players caught at least one pass from Brady. The Patriots didn’t look to one person to run their offense through.
Offense Could Not Capitalize
As balanced as the Patriots offense was on Sunday, which helped them gain 430 total yards on that side of the ball, they struggled to find the endzone. Brady connected with Gronkowski for a touchdown, which was the 72nd time the pair had done so. Brady and Gronk now only trail Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates (who have connected for 85 touchdowns) all-time for quarterback to tight end touchdown connections). But that touchdown to Gronkowski was the only time the Patriots found the endzone on Sunday.
New England moved the ball on Sunday, but they continued to settle for field goal attempts. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski went four-of-six on his field goal attempts. He was good from 25, 26, 36 and 43 yards and missed two, both from 43 yards. The defense has played better of late and held Rivers and the Chargers offense to only 13 points, but the offense needs to get back to the level they were at to start the season. Gostkowski is normally very sure footed and he needs to make field goals when called upon, but the offense should have found the endzone more than once on Sunday.
The Patriots will now a bye week to try to get players healthy, including Hogan (shoulder) and Marcus Cannon (ankle). Cannon was on the injury report this week and both players left the game on Sunday.