Sunday, January 14, 2007

Patriots 24, Chargers 21 [J. Mark English]

The New England Patriots advanced their playoff record to 11-1 since the start of the 21st century. Bill Belichick summed up his teams performance best:

“Wow, what a game. I’m really speechless. I’m really proud of our football team. I thought the players showed a lot of mental toughness and physical toughness. San Diego is a great team. They have a lot of great players. They’re outstanding in every phase of the game and I was really proud of the way our guys stepped up and just battled for 60 minutes. San Diego has been a great fourth-quarter team, and we certainly got everything they had, which was quite a bit. But it was just every single phase. Stephen [Gostkowski] did a great job kicking, no question about that, made some key kicks. The whole operation, protection – [holder] Matt [Cassel], [long snapper] Lonie [Paxton]. Defensively, we had some key stops, a couple turnovers and offensively had a couple key drives. That drive at the end of the [first] half was a huge drive. At the end, picking up that third down, [Reche] Caldwell made a terrific play and [Tom] Brady made a great throw. There were a lot of great plays made on both sides of the ball. It wasn’t perfect, by any means. We had some trouble with them, as you would expect. I think they had a little bit of trouble with us, somewhere along the line. We’re happy to win. We’re looking forward to the next challenge, next week against the Colts. Each game gets bigger and each opponent gets tougher. And so that’s what we’re going to have to be ready for in Indy.”

The Pats will face off against the Colts next weekend at the RCA Dome, in the first AFC Championship indoors.

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