With no Tom Brady in sight, suddenly the Chargers decided to come out on the attack and proceeded to blow the Patriots off the field. The 17 points scored in the first half that day marked the only time in the last four meetings with the Patriots that the Chargers scored more than nine points. To make matters worse, they only averaged 1.5 points in the first half in the other two games.
To me, that shows one of three things. One, the Patriots defense is just that damned good. Two, the Chargers' game planning is horrible. Three, the team is in complete awe of Tom Brady.
This "awe" argument may not go very far, because the Chargers tend to be a horrible first-half team, but I remember the Chargers' attitude going into the 2008 game.
"We're gonna get 'em."
"We're gonna kick 'em while their down."
"Not gonna get any sympathy from us. We're going for big yardage."
Now that Brady's back, you won't hear any such talk coming from the Chargers.
Rare is it when you see the Chargers come out and try to pass a team out of the stadium like they did the Patriots that day. It's understandable that the defense would come out and have a party at the expense of the Patriots' bad fortune of not have Brady, but why did the offense go get 'em like they did?
The Patriots defense was totally held at bay and didn't make a play until LaDainian Tomlinson was safely on the bench and fullback Jacob Hester fumbled, allowing the Patriots to score an easy touchdown to close in at the end with a final score of 30-10.
No sacks. No interceptions. The Patriots' eighth-ranked defense couldn't do anything.
Did they need Brady to inspire them, or did the Chargers just play stress-free football without the threat of Tom Terrific's golden arm?
In the end, the results of this game kept the Patriots out of the playoffs and got the Chargers in. The Patriots paid the Chargers back once again last season when they kept the Chargers out of the playoffs with a win in San Diego.
If the Chargers come out and lay another zero-, three- or seven-point egg in the first half with multiple turnovers, you may have to wonder if the Chargers were in awe of the Tom Brady aura.
Then again, maybe that's just the Norv Turner factor.