Final: Patriots Dominate Chargers, win divisional round 41-28

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady of the New England Patriots runs off the field following in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady of the New England Patriots runs off the field following in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots dominated the Los Angeles Chargers in all three phases of the game on Sunday in the AFC Divisional Playoff, winning by a 41-28 score that looks closer than the game really was. Tom Brady finished 34-for-44 for 343 yards and a touchdown on the day.

New England advances to its eight straight AFC Championship Game, where it will face the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium.

Check below for a recap of our live updates and analysis.

Live Recap

-- Q4, 0:59: Philip Rivers hits Antonio Gates in the end zone for another garbage time touchdown. Chargers go for two again, but it’s no good. The score stands at 41-28 Patriots with a kneel down coming for the Pats.

-- Q4, 4:12: Stephon Gilmore leaps and hauls in an interception on third-and-10, giving the Patriots the ball back with just 4:12 left and a berth in the AFC Championship Game on the horizon.

-- Patriots recover the onside kick. Tom Brady is still in the game for the Patriots.

-- Q4, 7:42: Philip Rivers rolls out and hits an open Virgil Green for an easy 1-yard touchdown. They go for two and convert it to Keenan Allen. Chargers get some garbage time points, making it 41-22 Patriots with the clock winding down.

-- The call is overturned, and Allen is ruled to be down by contact at the 1-yard line.

-- Q4, 7:42: Philip Rivers hits Tyrell Williams down the field, then J.C. Jackson gets flagged for pass interference. Keenan Allen can’t hold on to the ball in the end zone on third-and-4 after making the catch, and it’s ruled incomplete. The Chargers challenge the call.

-- Q4, 9:39: Sony Michel picks up three yards to set up third-and-1. No gain for Michel on third down, setting up fourth-and-1. Patriots elect to punt, and it goes for a touchback.

-- Q4, 11:55: Trey Flowers draws a holding penalty on first down to make it first-and-20 for the Chargers. They get through for more pressure with Flowers and Adam Butler to rush Rivers into an errant throw on second down. Kyle Van Noy has a golden opportunity at an interception on second-and-20, but it clangs off his hands. Rivers’ pass intended for Tyrell Williams is incomplete, broken up by Jason McCourty. Stuck on their own 14-yard line, the Chargers have to punt.

-- Q4, 12:23: Tom Brady hits Julian Edelman for a 35-yard gain on a dime of a throw and a nifty snag by the receiver. Cordarrelle Patterson picks up yardage on a jet sweep, but it’s called back due to a holding penalty on the Patriots. James White scampers for 23 yards on the next play. But right guard Shaq Mason is shaken up on the play.

Chris Hogan makes a four-yard catch but it’s short, making it fourth-and-6. Gostkowski hits another FG and it’s 41-14 Patriots.

-- Q3, 0:00: Tom Brady finds Julian Edelman on a shallow crosser for nine yards. James Develin takes another handoff and picks up the yard for another first down. That’s how the third quarter ends.

-- Q3, 1:16: Melvin Gordon loses three yards on the first play after the challenge. Rivers hurls it for Austin Ekeler in the end zone on second down, but it’s overthrown. Rivers throws it into triple coverage on third down toward Mike Williams and it’s incomplete. The Patriots get flagged for holding, though, to give the Chargers first-and-10 at the Patriots’ 15.

Antonio Gates catches it behind the line and is immediately brought down for a three-yard loss. Rivers finds Tyrell Williams on the next play to make it first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Gordon is stuffed before the goal line on first down. He finds an opening on second down to give the Chargers their first points since their opening drive. The Patriots are still well ahead with the fourth quarter on the horizon, but the Chargers have made it 38-14 Pats after the 10-play, 72-yard drive.

-- The ruling stands as called. There was not a clear-enough recovery by McCourty.

-- Q3, 4:13: A Trey Flowers roughing the passer penalty sets up first-and-10 from the Chargers’ 43. Philip Rivers hits Mike Williams for 20 yards. Williams catches it again, but this time J.C. Jackson and Patrick Chung swarm him and bring him down for only five yards. Rivers finds Williams yet again for 15 yards. Bill Belichick challenges the ruling that Williams was down by contact before he lost the football. The ball came out at the end of the play and Devin McCourty briefly recovered it.

-- Thoughts: The Patriots chewed up 7:22 on the game clock ion their last drive. The Chargers have nary a snow ball's chance in hell of coming back at this point, barring some miraculous defensive/special teams plays on their end. But they look cooked at this point. It doesn't help that their quarterback is not throwing the ball accurately and has been under a lot of pressure.

-- Q3, 6:31: Tom Brady finds Rob Gronkowski for a 35-yard catch-and-run to pick up another first down. Sony Michel picks up another five on the next play. James White catches it for four yards on second down, setting up third-and-1 from the Chargers’ 27. James Develin gets the handoff and barrels ahead to pick up the yard and give Tom Brady a fresh set of downs.

Brady’s next pass intended for Edelman sails incomplete. Patriots go for it on fourth-and-2, and hand it off to Michel who picks up seven. Michel goes for no gain on first-and-goal, then White gets stopped for a one-yard loss. Brady escapes the pocket and tries to hit Julian Edelman in the end zone on third down, but it’s over his head and incomplete.

Stephen Gostkowski’s 28-yard field goal is good, and the Patriots extend their lead to 38-7.

-- Q3, 13:53: Philip Rivers sails it over the head of an open Keenan Allen on the Chargers’ first play of the third quarter. Adam Butler breaks through with pressure on second down and Rivers is forced to throw it away. Tyrell Williams makes a three-yard catch on third down, but it’s not nearly enough for the first down and the Chargers are forced to punt down 35-7.

-- Q2, 0:51: Philip Rivers is sacked by an untouched Trey Flowers on first down, setting up second-and-20. Antonio Gates makes a 10-yard catch on second down. J.C. Jackson breaks up the pass intended for Mike Williams on third-and-10 to force yet another Chargers punt.

-- Q2, 1:43: Sony Michel powers forward with a little help from the offensive line, and bursts into the end zone to score his third touchdown of the game. Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point is good, and the rout is on in Foxboro. It’s 35-7 Patriots.

-- Q2, 1:47: Tom Brady hits Julian Edelman 19 yards on the first play of the drive after the fumble recovery. Sony Michel shifts ahead for two yards on the next snap. Phillip Dorsett picks up nine yards to set up first-and-goal from the 5.

-- Patriots win the challenge. Tom Brady and the offense get the ball back at the Chargers' 35.

-- Q2, 3:22: Two incompletions from Tom Brady forces the Patriots to punt for the first time. The punt is muffed, but officials rule that the ball went out of bounds before the Patriots could recover it. Bill Belichick challenges the call.

-- Q2, 4:16: Philip Rivers hits Tyrell Williams for 26 yards to spark the Chargers on a gotta-have-it drive. Melvin Gordon is stopped for no gain on the next play. Rivers heaves a jump-ball for Tyrell Williams on second down but it’s incomplete. The Patriots get pressure with John Simon and Dont’a Hightower on third down and Rivers’ throw is off the mark. Patriots get the ball back with a chance to really go for the jugular.

-- Q2, 6:04: James White dashes for a 28-yard catch-and-run to spark the next drive for the Patriots. Sony Michel picks up six yards on the next play. Brady goes deep to Chris Hogan on third down and it’s incomplete, but the Chargers get flagged for holding to gift them a first down. Sony Michel shows good patience and makes one cut to find an open field, powering ahead for 40 yards to make it first-and-goal at the Chargers’ 9-yard line.

Rex Burkhead snakes his way into the end zone on the very next play for a six-yard touchdown. It’s 28-7 Patriots with the offense showing no signs of slowing down.

-- Dont'a Hightower is being checked in the blue medical tent after the last possession for the Patriots defense.

-- Thoughts: Not much going right for the Chargers so far. Besides Keenan Allen's 43-yard touchdown on busted coverage, they haven't been able to get a ton going on offense. There appears to be communication issues, as the Chargers have committed two delay of game penalties. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, meanwhile, are humming. Three drives, three touchdowns. Besides the one bad play on defense, it's hard to ask for much of a better start for the Pats.

-- Q2, 9:12: Philip Rivers stands back and finds Melvin Gordon for 11 yards to start the Chargers’ next drive. Gordon finds a running lane around the right edge on the next play to pick up eight more yards. Rivers is way off on second-and-2, overthrowing Mike Williams who was being covered tightly by J.C. Jackson. Another delay of game penalty on the Chargers sets up third-and-7. Williams snatches it out of the air over the middle to pick up 10 yards and give the Chargers another first down.

Gordon is chopped down by Kyle Van Noy for no gain on first down. Trey Flowers breaks through and flushes Rivers out of the pocket on second-and-10 and Rivers is forced to throw it away. The pass attempt for Antonio Gates falls incomplete and it’s nearly intercepted by Devin McCourty, forcing the Chargers to punt again.

-- Q2, 12:17: Tom Brady finds Julian Edelman wide open on a play-action pass to give the Patriots another first down on the 17-yard completion. The pass is a little off intended for Chris Hogan on the next play as the receiver slips trying to work back to the ball. Brady finds Phillip Dorsett underneath to pick up another first down. Sony Michel barrels ahead for another four yards. Hogan makes the catch on the next play and fights for an extra yard, setting up third-and-1.

Chris Hogan commits a false start penalty to make it third-and-6. Brady finds Dorsett open in the end zone for another touchdown, making it 21-7 Patriots with the Chargers suddenly needing to battle back from multiple scores.

-- Q1, 0:00: Tom Brady’s first pass attempt on the next play is tipped and nearly intercepted, but it falls incomplete. That’s how the first quarter ends in Foxborough.

-- Q1, 0:24: Melvin Gordon picks up just one yard on the first play of the Chargers’ next drive; Philip Rivers overthrows Mike Williams on second down to set up third-and-9. The Patriots get pressure with Adrian Clayborn and others to flush Rivers out of the pocket, and he has to throw it away. Chargers forced to punt, and Julian Edelman is downed at the 42 to give the Patriots great field position with a seven-point lead.

-- Q1, 1:35: James White drops a short pass on the first play of the Patriots’ next drive. Sony Michel makes up for it with a 12-yard gain on the next play. White catches a screen pass on first down, but he’s stuffed for a three-yard loss. Julian Edelman catches a pass and muscles through a defender to pick up the first down on the next play.

Michel picks up two yards on the next first down play. Edelman breaks free over the middle and makes a 28-yard catch and run to set up first-and-10 ad the 14. Michel dashes for the pylon and dives into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown on the next play. Extra point is good, and just like that it’s 14-7 Patriots.

-- Q1, 4:56: Philip Rivers drops off a fly sweep to Austin Ekeler for three yards on first down. Melvin Gordon rumbles for eight yards on the next play to give them another first down. Keenan Allen hauls in a 43-yard touchdown on the next snap, as Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots safeties appeared to lose him in coverage down the field. The extra point is good and we’re tied 7-7.

-- Q1, 6:41: Philip Rivers pitches it to Melvin Gordon on their first play, but he’s stopped for no gain before he can reach the edge. Rivers heaves it deep for Mike Williams on second down, but he drops it to set up third-and-10. A delay of game penalty makes it third-and-15. Rivers finds Williams over the middle for an 18-yard completion to make it first-and-10 at the Chargers’ 46. Williams is down on the field being checked by trainers after the catch.

-- Thoughts: This isn't the first time the Patriots have looked unstoppable on their opening drive. The question is whether they can keep it rolling for 52 more minutes. But an excellent start either way for Tom Brady, who mostly looked sharp and got his top targets involved. It looks like the Patriots' running backs could be in for a big day, especially in the passing game. It's also encouraging to see Sony Michel punch it in from the 1-yard line, something that the rookie running back struggled with for much of his first season.

-- Q1, 7:49: Sony Michel rumbles through a seam for an 11-yard gain to keep the Patriots humming. Michel gets the rock again on the next play for another five. It’s incomplete intended for Julian Edelman on second down, setting up third-and-5. James White picks up six yards for another first down.

Brady pitches it to Michel on first down, and he hurdles a defender before getting hit for a tackle for no gain. White catches it for four yards on second down to set up third-and-6. It’s incomplete on third down, but the referee calls pass interference to set up first-and-goal at the 1.

Michel punches it in on first down to give the Patriots a touchdown on their opening drive.

-- Q1, 11:08: Tom Brady hits James White for an eight-yard pickup on the first play from scrimmage. White gets stuff for a one-yard loss on the next play, but Julian Edelman makes a six-yard catch and run for a first down. Sony Michel gets stopped on first down, but Brady hits Michel for a nine-yard completion to set up third down. James White moves the chain with a 10-yard catch on the next play.

White shakes and bakes through the middle off a shovel pass from Brady for another 17 yards on the very next play, and there’s an injury timeout for the Chargers.

-- Patriots win the coin toss, and elects to receive the opening kickoff.

-- The Patriots and Chargers have released their inactive players. DE Deatrich Wise Jr., who has been dealing with an ankle sprain, is among the inactives for the Patriots.

-- Report: Tom Brady healthy after dealing with MCL sprain during season

-- Rob Gronkowski reportedly will weigh retirement again after the season

-- Eye on Sunday: Patriots can't let dual-threat Desmond King ruin their day

-- Can the Patriots win their matchups against the Chargers' formidable pass rushers?

-- Tom Brady gets everyone involved in new Patriots pump-up video

-- Patriots have their hands full with Chargers' All-Pro safety Derwin James

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