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Saturday, September 17, 2011
Revisiting '10 Pats win over S.D.

By Mike Reiss

With Sunday's highly anticipated home opener against the Chargers approaching, let's look back at notes from the 2010 meeting between the teams as a refresher (a 23-20 Patriots win in San Diego):

Patriots offense struggled. The Patriots had just 38 net yards of offense in the first half. Playing with a faster tempo, and inserting Ryan Wendell at left guard in place of Dan Connolly, were a few halftime adjustments that sparked a better performance. Interesting to revisit how that was a game in which Connolly struggled, as the Patriots are counting on him to fill in for injured center Dan Koppen this time around. Quarterback Tom Brady finished 19 of 32 for 159 yards and one touchdown, and he was sacked four times. A key false start penalty before the Chargers' game-tying field-goal attempt helped the Patriots escape. The Patriots also were victimized by an onside kick. Afterwards, the question was posted to Patriots players -- celebration or relief?

Patriots attacked with two tight ends. Similar to the 2011 season opener against the Dolphins, in which the Patriots had two or more tight ends on the field on 65 of 80 snaps, the Patriots went heavy with tight ends last year against the Chargers (48 of 61). The Patriots had attempted to utilize a three-receiver set early last year against the Chargers, but protection issues got them out of it quickly.

Woodhead was deemed better fit than Green-Ellis. In the running game, the Patriots relied more on Danny Woodhead (36 of 61 snaps) than BenJarvus Green-Ellis (22 of 61) against the Chargers. Green-Ellis had just 24 rushing yards on 11 attempts. Overall snaps played can be reviewed here.

Sub package struggled in fourth quarter. The Patriots had built a 20-3 lead in the game before the Chargers came roaring back, outscoring the Patriots 17-3 in the fourth quarter. Most of the Patriots' problems came in the sub defense. That was also an area the defense had some struggles in the 2011 season opener against the Dolphins, playing a dime package (6 defensive backs) late in the game when Miami piled up big yardage.