- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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After dominating on defense for three quarters, but undermining themselves with turnovers and special-teams gaffes, the San Diego Chargers caught fire in the fourth quarter Sunday against visiting New England.
The Chargers outscored the Patriots 17-3 in the first 10:59 of the quarter to cut the New England lead to 23-20. San Diego was, indeed, charging.
Then it gave itself real life when it stopped New England on its 47 with 1:55 remaining when the Patriots went for it on fourth-and-1 from their 49. The Chargers had everything going for themselves. They quickly got a first down at the 35, but two incompletions suddenly put the Chargers in a third-and-10 situation with 1:14 to go. Quarterback Philip Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates --playing at about 65 percent with a toe injury that kept him out of practice all week -- for an 8-yard gain to make it fourth-and-2 from the 27.
But it’s never that easy for San Diego, especially when it comes to special teams. Guard Louis Vasquez was called for a false start, adding to the Chargers’ maddening litany of special-teams issues.
Now, it was a 50-yarder. Tough; very tough.
And it was no good, as the ball bounced off the goal post, adding to the Chargers’ season-long misery. The Chargers did so much right in the sequence, but they made enough silly miscues to undo themselves again.