By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Chargers have two very talented pass rushers. You wouldn’t know it if you only watched them play the Patriots.
As usual, the big, bad edge guys got all the hype. They were this week’s bogeyman of choice. But once again, like they have so many times against these much-ballyhooed pass rush tandems, the Patriots’ slightly less hyped tackles wiped them off the stat sheet. The Patriots’ dominance on the offensive line played a major role in their 41-28 dismantling of Los Angeles in Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff, and it may have been that group’s most complete effort of the season so far.
Ingram finished with one hit on Tom Brady and cornerback Desmond King had another hit. But other than that, no real pressure to speak of. They barely even came close to getting a sack. All Bosa did the whole game was assist on a single tackle.
Brady and the offense deserve credit for getting rid of the ball quickly. But there certainly wasn’t nearly enough from Bosa or Ingram in this game, which came just one week after they wreaked havoc on the Baltimore Ravens.
Left tackle Trent Brown looked like he fits right in with the playoff Patriots in his January debut, neutralizing Ingram on Brady’s blind side and putting together a fundamentally sound, consistent 60-minute effort. And really, so did the entire O-line. Brown looks motivated for a Lombardi Trophy after his last big playoff disappointment – which was in high school.
“We made it all the way to the state championship and lost, so I wanted that win this time,” said Brown.
Meanwhile, Bosa’s disappearing act largely came at the hands of Marcus Cannon, the Patriots’ unassuming gentle giant of a right tackle who steps up against formidable edge rushers more often than he ever gets credit for doing. Cannon’s OK with the flashy pass rushers getting the hype. He’ll be the one who executes on Sunday.
“I guess I did my job,” said Cannon, who had a big ol’ grin on his face for most of the time speaking to reporters. “Trent did his job. The whole O-line were all working together. We’re all connected, from the offensive line to the tight ends, we’re all connected. I’ll have to look at the film and see, but it sounds like we did a pretty good job. We’re just going to keep working, come back next week and try to do the same.”
It’ll be a tall order to do the same thing next Sunday, when the Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Communication will be a far different challenge in Kansas City than it would ever be in Foxborough. They’ll have to hope they can contain the Chiefs’ own talented group of pass rushers.
But after the way the offensive line manhandled the Chargers up front, it’s hard not to feel confident in this unit elevating themselves one more time after their top-to-bottom domination in the trenches, especially at the tackle positions. It’s amazing how often they’ve flipped the narrative on these pass rushers who come to town. Sunday was perhaps the group’s most impressive performance yet.
“It’s such a team game,” said center David Andrews. “That’s why it’s the greatest game on Earth. It takes all 11 guys in the pass game to neutralize edge guys – our tackles played lights out, though. But you know, it’s guys doing the right thing in the passing game, running the football well … but I think our tackles did play lights out.”
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.