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Coming off a loss at Green Bay last week and needing a win to maintain control of the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the New England Patriots played outstanding defense and got big plays when it mattered to take a 23-14 win over the host San Diego Chargers. Tom Brady threw for 317 yards—141 of which went to Julian Edelman (a career high)—and two touchdowns.
A back-and-forth battle turned midway through the fourth quarter. After the Patriots took a 16-14 lead and forced the Chargers to punt on the subsequent possession, Brady hit Edelman on a slant for a 69 yard touchdown that gave New England a nine point lead.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy effectively put the final nail in the coffin on the next possession when he surprisingly elected to punt on 4th and 4 at the 50 with just 6:28 to go, a very surprising decision given that San Diego needed two scores.
The win moves the Patriots to 10-3 on the year, their 12th consecutive season winning 10 or more games (an NFL record). They’ll finish their season with games against each of their AFC East rivals, and will be assured home field advantage throughout the playoffs if they can win out.
San Diego falls to 8-5 on the year, and in the crowded AFC playoff picture has a lot to do to ensure they reach the postseason. They can do themselves a huge favor next week when they take on Denver in their home regular season finale, as a win would give them a huge boost heading into road games against San Francisco and Kansas City.