Patriots prepared for war with Chargers

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a pass during the team's Week 1 win over the Vikings....

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a pass during the team's Week 1 win over the Vikings. (AFP)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 PM ET

FOXBORO, MASS. - The New England Patriots are ready for a battle.

Given that their opponent Sunday are the San Diego Chargers, they better be.

The Chargers have quarterback Philip Rivers, they have gifted receiver Vincent Jackson, they have a couple of tough inside runners in Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews plus a defensive unit that last season ranked first overall and first against the pass. They also registered 47 sacks to rank No. 2 in the league.

That should add up to a tough afternoon for the Patriots in general and quarterback Tom Brady in particular, despite the gaudy stat that hangs around his neck — he has gone 28 consecutive home games without a loss.

The two teams met last October in what proved to be a down season for the Chargers, one where they finished 9-7 and did not win the division title for the first time in five years. In fact, they didn’t even make the playoffs.

In that October game, New England squeaked out a 23-20 victory and now the Chargers are looking to return the favour.

The Chargers history, both recent and in the past, is one of missed opportunities. More often than not they have been their own worst enemies and have squandered talent more than any other NFL team.

Still, they remain a formidable opponent and one that has earned respect around the league.

“The more you watch, the more impressed you are,” Pats coach Bill Belichick said of San Diego. “It’s a good football team. Norv (Turner) has really done a good job with this team. They’ve got a lot of good players, they’re well coached, so they’re pretty good.”

In their opening game against Minnesota, a 24-17 victory, the Chargers put the clamps on Donovan McNabb and the Vikings offence, holding them to 187 yards and just 28 net yards passing.

It was enough to impress Belichick.

“They pretty much do what they do,” Belichick said of the Chargers defence. “They’re going to give you some five-man pressure, a lot of four-man pressure. They have good players, they have good edge rushers, they have good interior rushers, they cover well, so there are usually not a lot of wide-open receivers.

“The quarterback has to hold the ball a little bit to wait for somebody to get open, gives the rush a chance to get there. (Shaun) Phillips, (Travis) LaBoy, (Antwan) Barnes, they all do a good job outside.

“They do a good job, a combination of the coverage and the rush. It’s not one or the other; it’s a combination of both and it’s hard, hard to get guys open and they’re hard to block. You just run out of time one way or the other. You don’t have enough time to get open or don’t have enough time to get the ball off. They do a good job.”

But then, so do the Patriots.

When Brady drops back to pass, he has a terrific array of receivers in Wes Welker, Deion Branch and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

And then there’s Chad Ochocinco, who is looking to be added to the mix.

Last time up against the Chargers, even with the victory, the Patriots didn’t quite roll up 622 yards of offence such as they did last week against Miami. In fact, in last year’s win over San Diego, they totalled just 179 yards and were fortunate to pull out the win.

“We didn’t execute as properly as we wanted to,” Branch recalled of last year’s game against the Chargers. “Hopefully this year, this week will be a different outcome.

“We’ve got to go out and execute, got to convert on third down, we got to score in the red, the things that we didn’t do last year. Those are things that we got to improve on this year.”

And they can’t allow themselves to think about last week’s accomplishments.

“Last week is behind us, hopefully we can go out and do the same thing,” Moss said.

The same thing, though, is exactly what the Chargers will be attempting to prevent.

Going back to the 2006 playoffs, the Patriots have won four of the past five meetings.

New England’s lone loss over that stretch was in 2008 when Brady was out.

The Chargers come in motivated while the Patriots are confident.

It should be quite the battle.


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