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Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs Chargers

09.17.11 at 10:12 am ET
By

In Week Two, the Chargers come to town. With just one week’s worth of numbers in the book, even though some of them were *BIG* numbers, it’s not easy to draw many conclusions from them yet. But here are some things I’ve seen:

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* – The last time these two teams met (last October 24), the Patriots threw for only 128 yards, their fewest in any game last season. Their net yards per pass play in that game (3.56) was their lowest in a win (23-20) since 2004. Also, the Pats completed only one pass thrown 20 or more yards in the air in that game, tied for the fewest such completions by the Patriots since Tom Brady returned from injury in 2009.

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* – Wes Welker’s 109 YAC yards (yards after the catch) last week was his career high, the most “ever” (since 1992) by a Patriots’ wideout/tight end, and the second most since ’92 by any Patriots player (118, Kevin Faulk, 2003). Since they began tracking this stat in 1992, the Dolphins have allowed 100+ YAC yards to a receiver only nine times. Six receivers, from six different teams, have one such game. And Wes Welker has THREE of them.

Note this: Welker’s 109 YAC yards were also the most ever by a Patriot on the road (since 1992):

109 – Wes Welker, 2011
107 – Wes Welker, 2008
107 – Wes Welker, 2009

Note this too: Welker now ranks second in career YAC yards by a Patriots wideout/tight end:

2,871 – Troy Brown
2,673 – Wes Welker
2,095 – Ben Coates

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* – New England’s 622 total yards last Monday was the most in the NFL since Pittsburgh had 645 in 2002 in a 34-34 overtime tie against Atlanta. It was the most by a road team since Washington had 676 at Detroit in a 41-38 overtime win in 1990. But listen to this… It was the most by a road team in a non-overtime game since 1962, when Green Bay rolled to 628 yards in a 49-0 rout at Philadelphia. Miami had never allowed 600 yards in a game prior to Monday, and
the last three times that they have allowed 500+ yards (in 2008, this past January 2, and Monday night) have come against New England.

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* – The Patriots have not allowed a rushing touchdown in the first quarter in their last 22 home games, the longest current streak in the NFL. The Chargers haven’t scored such a TD in any of their last eight road tilts.

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* – New England’s 31.2 home scoring average since the start of the 2007 season is tops in the NFL in that span:

31.2 – Patriots
28.9 – Chargers
28.6 – Packers

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* – The Patriots have scored 31 or more points in nine straight games, tying the longest such streak in the NFL since 1990, also by the Patriots (2006-2007).

Here’s some context for that streak: The Redskins haven’t scored 31 points in any of their last 20 games has has only one such game in their last FIFTY.

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* – San Diego has not won a road game when scoring fewer than 20 points since 2004, covering their last 31 road wins.

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* – This kind of flew under the radar with all the talk about New England’s offense last week: The Chargers ran up 31 first downs last Sunday against Minnesota. Only four teams reached 30 first downs in a game all year last year and the first time the Vikings allowed 30+ first downs in 152 games (since 2001). The Patriots haven’t allowed 30 in a single game since 1997 (213 games) and only Tampa Bay has not allowed 30 first downs since they began tracking the stat in 1991. Actually, Carolina has never allowed 30 first downs in a game, but they’ve only existed since 1995.

Note this: The Chargers gained all those first downs despite a first down success rate (four or more yards gained on first down plays) of just 36.8%, the second worst mark in the league last week (Denver, 35.5%).

Note this too: The Patriots averaged 8.9 yards on first down on Monday, the highest average in the league last week. Last season, they averaged 5.7 yards on first down, ranked 13th.

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* – The Chargers and Patriots were two of six teams that did not allow a first down via penalty in Week 1. Dating back to last season, San Diego has not allowed any in their last three straight games and five of their last seven.

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* – Is this a difference in philoposhy? Over the last 17 games, the Patriots have committed 11 turnovers while the Chargers have committed 31. Over that same span, New England has forced 39 turnovers (a margin of +28) while San Diego has forced 24 (a margin of -7). All that has led to a scoring margin of +219 for the Patriots and +125 for San Diego.

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* – New England has now won 42 in a row at home when they win the turnover battle. Here’s the thing though: San Diego has won 15 of their last 16 road games when THEY win the turnover battle.

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* – I wonder if the Chargers will try 12 passes behind the line of scimmage again. Last week, they completed 11-of-12 such passes, but managed only 4.25 net yards on those passes. Their 4.62 net average on such passes last season ranked just 15th.

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* – Speaking of behind the line passes, Tom Brady’s long interception avoidance streak ended on Monday night on a fluky pick that came behind the line. It was the first pick thrown by the Patriots on such a pass since Week 1 of 2009. In the 31 games in between, the Patriots threw 17 interceptions on downfield throws.

Note this: Since 2005, the Ravens are the only team that has not thrown a pick on a pass behind the line of scrimmage. In that same span, the Bears, Lions, and Giants have each thrown FOURTEEN. On defense, the Bears have registered 18 behind the line interceptions since 2005, while the Colts and Cowboys have only two each.

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* – The Vikings did not complete a pass greater than 10 yards downfield against the Chargers last Sunday, the second time in their last five games that the Chargers defense has pitched such a shutout. The Patriots’ pass defense has allowed no such completions just once since 2005.

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* – New England had three completions that were caught more than 20 yards downfield on Monday, snapping a streak of 15 straight games without three or more such catches. The Chargers had ZERO such completions last Sunday for the fifth time in their last seven games. Only three other teams have had zero long completions in five of their last seven games: The Chiefs (okay), the Bucs (okay), and … the Colts?

Note this: The Falcons did not have a completion caught 20+ yards downfield on Sunday in Chicago, their 29th consecutive game with zero or one such completion.

Note this too: Don’t look now, but the Lions have not ALLOWED a catch more than 20 yards downfield in any of their last four games.

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Enjoy the game. Should be a good one.

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