Cam Newton, special teams propel Patriots in rout of Chargers

NFL: New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers

Cam Newton rushed for two of his three touchdowns and Gunner Olszewski and Devin McCourty scored on special teams as the New England Patriots breezed to a 45-0 romp over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.

Newton threw for only 69 yards to go with 48 on the ground as the Patriots’ other phases excelled to help the team win for the fourth time in its last five games. New England (6-6) improved to .500 for the first time since Week 4.

Chargers rookie Justin Herbert posted his first game without a touchdown, completing 26 of 53 passes for 209 yards and two interceptions. The 45-0 shutout is the worst in franchise history for Los Angeles (3-9), which has dropped five of its last six games.

Opportunistic football helped the typically slow-starting Patriots to a 28-0 lead at halftime. It started on the game’s first drive when Newton converted a fourth-and-2 at the Chargers’ 12-yard line and ultimately leaped over his offensive line for a 1-yard score at 7:50 of the first quarter.

Then began the special teams nightmare for Los Angeles, first when Michael Badgley missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. After a three-and-out on the Chargers’ second drive, Olszewski returned the punt 70 yards down the right sideline to stake New England to a 14-0 lead at 14:02 of the second.

Newton’s 2-yard scoring run with 51 seconds left upped New England’s lead to 21-0 on a drive that was extended when Chargers defensive tackle Jerry Tillery was called for illegal use of hands-on a third-and-19 play.

Los Angeles got Badgley within range to attempt a 58-yard field goal as time expired, but Cody Davis blocked the kick, and McCourty scooped up the ball and ran 44 yards to give the Patriots a 28-0 lead.

After Herbert was intercepted on the Chargers’ first drive of the second half, Newton’s 5-yard pass to N’Keal Harry in the end zone gave the Patriots a 35-0 lead.

An Olszewski 61-yard punt return helped set up a Nick Folk 32-yard field goal, and Olszewski caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from backup Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.

–Field Level Media