By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
All this week at 985thesportshub.com, we’re taking a look back at the most memorable divisional round playoff games the Patriots have played in the last two decades.
Today, we remember the Patriots escape from San Diego with a 24-21 win over the Chargers in the 2006 divisional round.
The 14-2 Chargers had the best record in the NFL that year. The led for nearly the entire game and had the best running back in football, LaDainian Tomlinson, ready to kill the clock. But somehow, someway, the Patriots pulled out the win (to date, it remains their last win on the road in the playoffs).
Down by eight points with eight minutes to play, Tom Brady threw a fourth down interception to Chargers safety Marlon McCree. Had McCree slid to the turf, the Chargers very well may have won the game, but Troy Brown saved the day for the Pats.
Brown's forced fumble gave the Patriots the ball back near the Chargers 30-yard line. The Pats would score on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell, before Kevin Faulk tied the game on a direct-snap play on the 2-point conversion.
With the game tied 21-21 and just minutes to play, Brady hit Caldwell on a critical 49-yard third down pass to kickstart their final drive.
That play got the Patriots in field goal range, where rookie Stephen Gostkowski, in his first year replacing Adam Vinatieri, hit the go-ahead 31-yard field goal to put the Patriots up 24-21.
Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding would miss a 54-yard field goal as time expired to seal the win for the Pats.
Tom Brady: 27/51, 280 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions.
Jabar Gaffney: 10 catches, 103 yards, 1 touchdown.
Reche Caldwell: 7 catches, 80 yards, 1 touchdown.
Stephen Gostkowski: 3 field goals made (50, 34, 31 yards)
Philip Rivers: 14/32, 230 yards, 1 interception.
LaDainian Tomlinson: 23 carries, 123 yards, 2 touchdowns. 2 catches, 64 yards.
Antonio Gates: 6 catches, 61 yards.
You can hear Matt McCarthy on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.