By Tom E. Curran and Mary Paoletti
SAN DIEGO -- The best and worst of the Patriots' 23-20 victory over the Chargers.
BEST RESPONSE TO A LONG WEEK In the first quarter, Patrick Crayton caught a pass at the sticks in front of Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather.After a week of being vilified (rightly) for his hit on Todd Heap, Meriweather lowered his shoulder and arrived at the right time, decleating Crayton. Crayton held on for the catch, though. BEST INSTANCE OF UNREWARDED TRICKINESSIn the first quarter, Tom Bradyhanded off to BenJarvus Green-Ellis who swept right then lateraled to Wes Welker who swept leftwho then lateraled to Brady who made a hurried throw into coverage intended for Deion Branch. In. Com. Plete. BEST INSTANCE OF UNREWARDED TRICKINESS IIThe Chargers attacked the Patriots with an onsides kick in the first quarter. The Patriots' Dane Fletcher recovered but New England didn't cash in, failing to make a first down.
BEST IMITATION OF THE 2002 PATRIOTS
Rob Ninkovich as KGB. The Chargers' lateral that Jacob Hester didn't pursue, for assuming an incomplete, was recovered after an awkward pause by Patriots OLB Rob Ninkovich. The move was reminiscent of Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's recovery against the Patriots of a Brady backward pass that Kevin Faulk missed on October 13, '02. Ninkovich ran the ball 63 yards.
BEST HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTSAfter a stagnant first half, the Patriots took the second-half kickoff and went 89 yards in 17 plays with two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion. The Chargers didn't get the ball until 6:19 remained in the third and the score was 20-3. WORST MIC MANAGEMENTBetween the third and fourth quarters, referee Tony Corrente left his on-field mic on. The stadium was treated to nuggets like, "Whadda we got, fourth-and-7?" "Just to let you know, we're behind three TV timeouts." The sounds of Corrente jogging to the other end of the field and his lament that "I can't hear poop in this thing."
WORST REALIZATION OF A POST-GAME GOAL
Tom Brady said that the Patriots "can't just play 30 minutes of good football" in reflection of his team's need to hustle for a last-second comeback win against Baltimore. New England followed up on its QB's statement with roughly eight minutes of good football this Sunday.
BEST UNDERRATED LINEBACKER
Jerod Mayo continues to impress. The defensive captain had nine tackles and a fumble recovery on the day. It's looking like Mayo will be the first Patriot to have three 100 tackle seasons since Lawyer Milloy. But New England some defensive issues on the front burner right now and not enough people are noticing.
Mary Paoletti, Comcast SportsNet New England, diving for cover when cannons and pyrotechnics accompanying the Chargers introductionswere set loose.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran