New England Patriots

By Matt McCarthy,

All this week at, we’re taking a look back at the most memorable divisional round playoff games the Patriots have played in the last two decades.

On Monday, we relived the 2014 thriller between the Patriots and the Ravens.

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).

Key play:

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.

Forgotten play:

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.

SAN DIEGO – JANUARY 14: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski #3 of the New England Patriots kicks the game winning 31 yard field goal against the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game held at Qualcomm Stadium January 14, 2007 in San Diego, California. The Patriots defeated the Chargers 24-21. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding would miss a 54-yard field goal as time expired to seal the win for the Pats.

Final stats:


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.