New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick schemed up a game plan of perfection when facing rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Patriots held the Los Angeles Chargers scoreless for the first time since 2014 and cruised to an emphatic 45-0 victory over L.A. on Sunday afternoon at Sofi stadium in Inglewood.
“That was one of the worst football games I’ve ever been a part of in my 30 years in the National Football League as a player and a coach,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.
Los Angeles (3-9) was out of sync from the jump offensively and things only would get worse when special teams had devastating miscues of their own.
The Chargers allowed a 70-yard punt return from Gunner Olszewski in the second quarter followed by a blocked field goal that led to a 44-yard return for a score by Devin McCourty to give New England (6-6) a 28-0 lead at halftime.
”It was unacceptable, special teams was,” Lynn added. ”The whole operation. Today got confusing on the field. It was unacceptable.”
Herbert finished completing 25 of 50 passes for 209 yards and threw two interceptions while not throwing a touchdown pass for the first time in his NFL career.
It also marked a season-low completion percentage while New England’s defense was able to get after the young quarterback by sacking him three times.
“We just didn’t execute (Sunday). They’ve got a great defense, they’re coached really well, and they’ve got some great guys on that side of the ball,” Herbert said during his postgame press conference. “We didn’t get to do what we wanted to do, and we definitely didn’t execute. It’s on us.”
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton completed 12 of 19 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for two scores.
Damian Harris finished with 16 carries for 80 yards while Newton added 48 on 14 total ground attempts.
New England ultimately out rushed Los Angeles (165-70) and held a 33:41-26:19 time of possession advantage with a steady run game.
Newton connected with second year wide receiver N’Keal Henry for a 5-yard score during the third quarter to extend the Patriots lead to 35-0.
“It was the right way we wanted to start the game. We hit most of our goals during the game,” Newton said. “We were set up by great defense and special team’s performances and wanted to maximize it throughout the entire game.”
Olszewski totaled 145 yards on punt returns and recorded his first career receiving score on a 38-yard touchdown from Jarrett Stidham in the fourth to capture a 45-0 lead.
“We’re pissed off, disappointed. Nobody is satisfied with what happened (Sunday),” said Chargers rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray. “(Coach Lynn) told us this was on him, but this is a team effort so ultimately it’s on us.”
The Chargers next will host the Atlanta Falcons (4-8) on Sunday at Sofi stadium.
Kick-off is scheduled for 1:25 pacific time.