Foxboro -- After two bad performances in December against Miami and Pittsburgh, some wondered if Bill Belichick could fix the run defense. Both the Dolphins and Steelers had little trouble running against the Pats. The last two weeks of the regular season the run defense was excellent and that trend continued Sunday. The Los Angeles Chargers had only 19 yards rushing and averaged slightly less than two yards per carry.
If there is one simple reason the Pats are headed to the AFC Championship Game, it is because they dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and defense.
"I felt like we did that," Adam Butler said. "I felt like we dominated the line of scrimmage from the first snap to the last snap."
Butler and Trey Flowers told Pats Maven that the Pats wanted to get pressure up the middle to prevent Philip Rivers from having a clean pocket.
"When Rivers is comfortable in the pocket he can step up and make plays. He plays like an all-star - that is his element," Butler said.
As for the performance of Trey Flowers who was after Rivers for much of the day.
"That is what Trey does," Butler said.
Jason McCourty Makes First AFC Championship Game
Jason McCourty is in the playoffs for the first time in his 10-year career. Now, he is in the AFC Championship Game. McCourty has a trademark answer for Pats doubters.
"Who cares," McCourty said.
McCourty is the Pats third corner with J.C. Jackson having solidified the second corner position.
"When you lose this time of the year you don't get to come in and watch the film," McCourty said. "So it is a blessing to be able to beat ourselves up this week about our mistakes."
Rob Gronkowski Has A Catch
Gronkowski drew a pass interference penalty that led to the Pats touchdown and had a 25-yard catch and run in the second half. It could be the final home game for the great Gronkowski. The ninth-year tight end was not sentimental Sunday, but acknowledged the support of the home crowd.
"I was focused on LA the whole game, and it’s going to be the same thing this week. I’m all-in right now. We’ve got the Kansas City Chiefs now. It’s going to be another week of preparation, and I haven’t thought about anything like that, so just got to go all-in, keep our focus and keep on doing what we’ve got to do, and I’ve got to keep on doing what I’ve got to do to help this team out to win next week," Gronkowski said.
"I always feel the love from the crowd. I mean, haven’t been having all the reception stuff, but I had one today and you could tell – just definitely great to get the love from them, even on just the one catch, which is super neat. "
Notes: Adrian Clayborn had a sack in what was likely his best performance of the year. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said the Chargers blitzed more as the game went on. Chargers S Adrian Phillips noted the Pats used formations that they had rarely used this year. Pats inactives were DB Obi Melifonwu, DB Duke Dawson, DL Keionta Davis, OL James Ferentz, TE Stephen Anderson, DL Ufomba Kamalu, DL Deatrich Wise (ankle). Pats paid tribute to Charges DL Brandon Mebane before the game who lost his infant daughter earlier this month to a heart defect. Pats play the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday at 6:40 ET.