- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN DIEGO – Quick-hit thoughts at halftime of the Patriots’ game against the Chargers, with the Patriots leading 13-3:
Patriots can’t make Chargers pay for costly mistakes. The Chargers are shooting themselves in the foot, but the Patriots haven’t been able to make it hurt. First, rookie receiver Richard Goodman made a big catch over the middle and went to the ground without being touched, giving up the ball. The heads-up Patriots recovered, but couldn’t make it hurt as the offense went three-and-out. Then, when quarterback Philip Rivers’ lateral was picked up by Rob Ninkovich on a heads-up play for a big return, the Patriots also went three-and-out and had to settle for a field goal. The Patriots’ offense is having a bad day.
Lot of bad football on display. A lowlight tape of miscues could be cut from this game – lost fumbles by the Chargers, no situational awareness from the Chargers, special teams penalties from the Patriots, drops from the Chargers, offensive ineptitude from the Patriots. Add it all up and it hasn’t been a great product to watch. From a Patriots perspective, they’ve blown a lot of opportunities to create some early separation between them and the Chargers. It’s anyone’s game; the Patriots get the ball to start the second half. Credit the Chargers from a pass-rush perspective -- they are making life very hard on quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots' offensive line, particularly left tackle Matt Light.
Big pass interference penalty sets up field goal. Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason’s 29-yard pass interference penalty on a long pass to Deion Branch – which came on third down – was a big play of the quarter because it set the Patriots up at the Chargers’ 21. Julian Edelman’s 34-yard punt return created a spark before the drive, which culminated in Stepehen Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal to make it 13-3.
Jake Ingram struggling at long snapper. The 2009 sixth-round draft choice bounced a snap to punter Zoltan Mesko which Mesko did a nice job of handling. Earlier in the game, Ingram also had a bad snap on a play that was whistled dead by a false start. He then had a holding penalty.
McCourty’s interception a dandy. The rookie cornerback made one of the defensive plays of the Patriots’ season with his interception. It was textbook coverage and technique, with McCourty turning his head at the right time and catching the ball while looking back into the sun. It doesn’t get much better than that.