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Chargers Super Bowl hopes ends in New England, lose 21-12

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/recap;_ylt=ApTJxNQInvgt.DWA0qSpKJiU2bYF?gid=20080120017&amp;prov=ap" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>

    By Ben Walker

    <img src="http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/sp/getty/12/fullj.f3791979653f360d70bdad18cd5d71a2/f3791979653f360d70bdad18cd5d71a2-getty-78904712cc024_afc_champions.jpg" alt="FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 20: Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks to pass under pressure from Mike Vrabel #50 of the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game on January 20, 2008 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)" align="right" height="247" width="189" />FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Perfection comes down to one game now.

    Despite a shaky Tom Brady, the New England Patriots were still too much for the banged-up San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, pulling out a 21-12 victory that sent them back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in seven seasons.

    Brady made several stunningly poor throws that fluttered in the wind, Randy Moss was a non-factor for the second straight game and the highest-scoring team in NFL history sputtered all afternoon. Instead, the Patriots (18-0) relied on Laurence Maroney's spins, cuts and helmet-rattling runs.

    With injured Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson reduced to mostly watching in a parka, the Patriots moved on to a Feb. 3 matchup in Glendale, Ariz., against the winner of the NFC title game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.

    Yet for all the Patriots have accomplished -- they're the only team in NFL history to start out with 18 straight victories -- they're well aware they must win that final game to avoid being relegated to a footnote.

    No matter, New England took care of the nuts and Bolts. The sellout crowd at Gillette Stadium chanted "Super Bowl! Super Bowl!" in the closing minutes, anticipating the Pats' first appearance in the big game since the 2004 season.

    Coach Bill Belichick's team eclipsed the 17-0 mark of the champion 1972 Miami Dolphins, and will soon try for his fourth NFL title. The Patriots beat the Giants in a 38-35 thriller to close their regular season; New England did not play the Packers.

    Tomlinson carried on the first two San Diego plays, and did not touch the ball again because of a bad knee. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers hung in despite a bum knee and star tight end Antonio Gates did his best with a dislocated toe.

    The Chargers (13-6) gave a better performance than early this season, when they were routed 38-14 at New England. They trailed just 14-12 midway in the third quarter this time, but Brady's 6-yard TD pass to Wes Welker was enough for New England.

    Maroney ran for 122 yards to help hold the lead.

    The Patriots seemed poised to pull away late in the third quarter, but a terrible throw by Brady cost them. On third-and-goal at the 2, Brady tried a touch pass over the middle that NFL interceptions leader Antonio Cromartie easily picked off standing on the New England logo in the end zone.

    Nate Kaeding's fourth field goal, a 24-yarder midway through the third period, pulled San Diego to 14-12. Too bad for the Chargers, that was the story of their afternoon -- they'd drive close, only to wind up settling for a kick.

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