Coming off the most productive offensive performance in the 52-year history of the franchise, the New England Patriots would rather focus on how to improve for their next opponent instead of recalling their dominance of the last one.
Tom Brady(notes) and the Patriots expect to be in for a more difficult challenge Sunday when they host a San Diego Chargers squad that allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last weekend.
New England looked like the Super Bowl contender it expects to be while piling up a team-record 622 total yards in a 38-24 win at Miami on Monday night . The Patriots’ total yardage was also the most in the NFL since Pittsburgh amassed 645 yards versus Atlanta on Nov. 10, 2002.
Brady became the 11th player in NFL history to throw for 500 or more yards in a game with a career-high 517 - fifth-most all-time - and four touchdowns. That included a 99-yard touchdown to Wes Welker(notes), who finished with eight catches for 160 yards and two scores.
However, as quickly as the Patriots (1-0) seemed to pile up those yards, they just as quickly shifted their attention to a San Diego defense that allowed 187 total yards in a 24-17 victory over Minnesota last Sunday.
“Really, whatever happened (Monday) night, it really doesn’t matter as it relates to San Diego,” Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said. “Every week in this league is a different week. (San Diego has) an aggressive defense. They’ve got a lot of good players at every position.”
O’Brien and head coach Bill Belichick were more focused on the little things the team did wrong in the opener as opposed to the many areas in which they excelled. Belichick was unhappy the Patriots failed to score after having the ball on the Dolphins’ 1-yard line late in the first half, then failed to put the game out of reach more decisively with a couple of first downs in the closing minutes.
“There are a lot of things to improve on, a lot of little things,” O’Brien said. “It’s a detail-oriented game and, again, this is the week to really try to improve it because this is a heck of a defense that we’re going against.”
The Chargers (1-0) held the Vikings to one offensive touchdown and quarterback Donovan McNabb(notes) to 39 passing yards while sacking him twice and intercepting him once.
“We know (each) week it’s going to get tougher, especially with the Chargers,” Belichick said. “They’re a real good football team.”
New England has taken four of the last five meetings between these clubs, including victories in a divisional playoff contest in the 2006 season and the AFC championship game the following year. The Patriots won 23-20 at San Diego last Oct. 24.
Brady was 19 for 32 with a touchdown in that contest but was sacked four times as the Patriots beat the Chargers despite recording a season-low 179 total yards. Since that victory, Brady has thrown 30 TD passes and one interception in his last 12 regular-season games.
Brady, who has thrown 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while going 5-2 overall versus San Diego, looks to extend his regular-season home winning streak to 29 games. His current 28-game run is already the longest by any quarterback since 1950.
Counterpart Philip Rivers(notes) is 1-4 versus New England, including playoffs. His overall 78.4 passer rating against the Patriots is his lowest against any AFC opponent.
Rivers, however, went 33 of 48 for 335 yards with two TDs and two interceptions while helping the Chargers overcome a 17-7 halftime deficit last weekend.
“We’d love (for) it to be smooth and easy, but it’s these kind of wins that you really grow,” he said.
Both touchdown passes went to burly running back Mike Tolbert(notes), who led the team with nine receptions and also scored on the ground.
San Diego signed veteran kicker Nick Novak(notes) this week after Nate Kaeding(notes) was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn ligament in his left leg against the Vikings.
New England will be without center Dan Koppen(notes), who is expected to miss an extended period after he suffered an ankle injury in the first half Monday.