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Survivors: Patriots’ early charge enough to hold off the Bolts

Pats escape after Brown’s 50-yard field goal dings off the upright in the closing seconds.

Patriots (5-1) 23, Chargers (2-5) 20

What went right ...

1 Rookie production — This is one of the strongest rookie classes the Patriots have had in years. First-round pick Devin McCourty made his first career interception in the second quarter yesterday, while fresh-faced tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski combined for seven catches for 64 yards and one touchdown.

2 One key drive — Thanks to four first-half turnovers by the Chargers, the Pats held a 13-3 lead at half without doing much of anything on offense. They took the opening third-quarter drive 79 yards, though, ending with a BenJarvus Green-Ellis touchdown.

3 Lucky break — The Pats held the Chargers to a ridiculous 38 yards on 19 carries, but Philip Rivers ate them up late in the fourth quarter. Kris Brown set up for a 45-yard field goal to tie the game with 23 seconds left, but a false start penalty pushed the Bolts back and Brown’s 50-yarder bounced off the upright.

What went wrong ...

1 Missed chances — The Pats only cashed in 10 points off the four first half turnovers. In fact, the offense accumulated negative yardage on two of those four possessions.

2 Three full quarters — Up 23-6 in the fourth quarter, the Patriots took their foot off the gas. The Chargers scored two touchdowns in the final 7:21, including a 1-yard plunge by Mike Tolbert after San Diego recovered an onside kick.

3 ’O’ a no show — Tom Brady threw for 159 yards, one touchdown and converted just three of 12 third downs. The running back committee of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, and Sammy Morris combined for only 50 yards and a touchdown. Don’t expect the Pats to win too many games putting up numbers like those. “It’s not good,”?Bill Belichick said.

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