It was the second straight week that Flutie's Chargers couldn't
hold a late lead.
"We really fought our way out of a tough situation," said
Brady, 2-1 as a starter in place of injured Drew Bledsoe. "That's
the type of stuff you really build on as a team."
Flutie, the former New England quarterback and Boston College
star who won the Heisman Trophy in 1984, is now 12-2 at Foxboro
Stadium, which will be replaced next season by adjacent CMGi Field.
He and the rest of the Chargers struggled after the Patriots
tied the game with only seconds to spare. Vinatieri kicked a
23-yard field goal with 3:31 left and Brady threw a 3-yard scoring
pass to Jermaine Wiggins with 36 seconds to go.
Why do the Chargers have such a hard time holding on to a second-half
San Diego's offense becomes too conservative -- they play not to lose
instead of playing to win. They stop attacking and doing what they did to
get that lead.
The Chargers need to convert on more third downs when they have those leads.
QB Doug Flutie has to make plays and make it happen with his arm and with
That's the key: The Chargers need to get more production out of their
passing game. If they don't, defenses will be able to focus on stopping RB
ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player
personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.
On the last play of regulation, Wade Richey missed a 59-yard
field goal attempt after Flutie's fumble pushed the Chargers (3-2)
back two yards. Officials ruled it was an incompletion but that was
reversed by replay.
"The ball slipped out of my hand. It was soaking wet," Flutie
said. He was 4-0 there with Boston College and 5-0 with the
One week earlier, the Chargers were undefeated after going 1-15
last season. But they squandered a six-point lead in the last five
minutes, losing to Cleveland 20-16 as Flutie threw incompletions on
the last two plays with the ball at the Browns 45-yard line.
"I don't know what went wrong" against the Patriots, Chargers
wide receiver Reggie Jones said. "We just kind of relaxed, I
guess, and they kept playing and made some plays."
Brady and his receivers made the big ones.
"Tom played with a lot of poise," Patriots coach Bill
Belichick said. "He did a real nice job stepping up into the
pocket. They didn't give up."
The second-year pro went 33-of-54 for 364 yards and two
touchdowns. Troy Brown had 11 catches and Terry Glenn and David Patten had seven each. It was Glenn's first game since serving a
four-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.
Glenn got a loud ovation after his first catch.
"It had to really put a smile on my face," said Glenn, whose
21-yard scoring reception helped the Patriots build a 9-6 halftime
lead. "It made me feel real good. I didn't know what kind of
reception I was going to get."
Brady was glad to have him back
"He's got great hands. He runs great routes. He brings a lot to
the team," Brady said. "He really threatens the defense."
Glenn didn't catch any of Brady's three completions on the
winning drive. And the key pass didn't even reach its receiver.
That's because Patten was knocked down racing for the ball up the
right sideline, and Alex Molden was charged with a 37-yard pass
Brady then hit Kevin Faulk for a 9-yard gain and a first down at
the Chargers 26. The Patriots had trouble moving the ball and went
for a field goal on third down from the 26.
After Vinatieri connected, the Patriots charged off the bench
and pounced on him. Flutie walked slowly onto the field where he
shook hands with Patriots Otis Smith and Faulk, then went to his
"We've got to run out the clock" with a late lead, Flutie
said. "That's something winning teams can do."
Flutie went 20-of-32 for 270 yards and one touchdown and didn't
get his usual help from the running game.
LaDainian Tomlinson had 74 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries
after entering the game as the NFL's leading rusher with 103 yards
San Diego lost its 10th straight game to the Patriots and is
winless in seven road games against them since a 1970 victory at
The teams traded 1-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter --
Tomlinson's giving San Diego a 13-9 lead, and Antowain Smith's
putting New England ahead 16-13.
The Chargers took a 19-16 lead on Flutie's 3-yard pass to Steve Heiden with 10:00 left in the fourth quarter, and made it 26-16 on
Derrick Harris' 6-yard run after recovering punter Lee Johnson's
The Patriots' 54 pass attempts were the most since Bledsoe
went 28-of-54 on Nov. 23, 1998. ... New England rushed 24 times for
29 yards. ... Each team missed an extra point attempt. ... San
Diego, whose 241.3 yards allowed were fourth fewest in the league,
was outgained 374-343. ... For the 53rd time in 56 games, the
Chargers held an opponent without a 100-yard rusher.
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