Patriots

Newton, special teams lead Patriots to 45-0 rout of Chargers

The Patriots (6-6) have won two straight and four of five to get back into playoff contention in the AFC.

Patriots playoff chances
The New England Patriots celebrate after Devin McCourty returned a block field goal attempt for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) AP Photo/Ashley Landis

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Cam Newton ran for two touchdowns and the New England Patriots scored two TDs on special teams in a 45-0 rout of the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Newton has four games this season with multiple rushing touchdowns, breaking the league record for a quarterback. He had three such games in 2011, an achievement he shared with five others, and has 10 in his career, three more than any other QB.

Newton’s 1-yard dive on the game’s opening drive and a 2-yard keeper up the middle in the second quarter gave him 11 rushing scores on the year. His most in a season is 14 as a rookie with the Carolina Panthers in 2011.

The Patriots (6-6) have won two straight and four of five to get back into playoff contention in the AFC.

Los Angeles (3-9) suffered the worst loss in franchise history, eclipsing a 49-6 defeat to Kansas City in 1964. It was the first time since 2014 the Chargers were shut out. LA will finish with a losing record for the second consecutive season.

Gunner Olszewski took Ty Long’s punt 70 yards up the right sideline early in the second quarter, putting New England ahead 14-0. The Patriots’ second special teams score came on the last play of the first half, when Devin McCourty returned a blocked field-goal attempt 44 yards to the end zone. New England led 28-0 at halftime.

It is the seventh time in league history a team has returned a punt and blocked field goal for TDs in the same game. The last team to do that was Baltimore in 2015. New England is the only team to have accomplished it in the regular season and the playoffs.

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The Chargers reassigned special teams coach George Stewart on Nov. 25, but LA’s struggles in that phase continued.

Newton completed 12 of 19 passes for 69 yards, including a 5-yard pass to N’Keal Henry during the third quarter that extended New England’s lead to 35-0.

Jarrett Stidham replaced Newton early in the fourth quarter threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Olszewski.

Rookie Justin Herbert was 26 of 53 for 209 yards for the Chargers. He was intercepted twice.

INJURIES

Patriots: CB Jonathan Jones and TE Larry Izzo suffered neck injuries and did not return.

Chargers: RB Joshua Kelly suffered an ankle injury and did not return. LT Sam Tevi missed the game because his wife gave birth to the couple’s child.

UP NEXT

Patriots: Remain in Los Angeles to face the Rams on Thursday night.

Chargers: Host the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.

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