The Chargers were favored by some oddsmakers for Sunday’s game at SoFi Stadium. They instead suffered the worst shutout loss in team history, getting a 45-0 butt kicking from the Patriots.
The Patriots have won four of five, and two in a row, to climb back to 6-6 and remain in the playoff hunt. The Chargers fell to 3-9.
It was team effort for the Patriots, who held the Chargers to 258 total yards, scored two special teams touchdowns and ran for 165 yards. Quarterback Cam Newton threw one touchdown and ran for two others.
But Gunner Olszewski became the unlikely star for the Patriots.
Olszewski returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown, caught a 38-yard touchdown pass and nearly ran another punt return back for a score. He returned a fourth quarter punt 61 yards before punter Ty Long got him out of bounds at the Chargers 17.
Olszewski had never scored in 16 previous career games, though he did have an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown negated by a controversial blindside block penalty on rookie linebacker Anfernee Jennings last week against the Cardinals.
The Chargers’ special teams were an embarrassment. They missed a 46-yard field goal, allowed Olszewski to return three punts for 145 yards and a touchdown, had 10 players on the field for a punt return, had 12 players on the field for a punt return, had holding on a kickoff return and a false start on a punt and had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown.
It was so decisive that Jarrett Stidham played much of the fourth quarter in mop-up duty for Newton and threw the 38-yard touchdown pass to Olszewski, whose one catch led the Patriots in receiving yards.
Newton has 11 rushing touchdowns this season, his third season with double-digit rushing touchdowns. No other quarterback in history has accomplished that more than once.
Chargers rookie Justin Herbert went 26-of-53 for 209 yards and two interceptions.