Two field goals are all Chargers need to take down Patriots 6-0

Khalil Mack of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates after a defensive stop during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 3, 2023 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Justin Herbert threw for 212 yards and set up a pair of Cameron Dicker field goals that were all the Los Angeles Chargers needed on a cold and rainy day for their first shutout in six years, a 6-0 victory over the New England Patriots and their latest hapless quarterback, Bailey Zappe.

Keenan Allen came back from a thigh bruise to catch five passes for 58 yards. But the only scoring the Chargers (5-7) could manage was a pair of 38-yard field goals in the second quarter.

New England (2-10) made a quarterback switch, benching Mac Jones in favor of Zappe, but still lost its fifth straight game. For the first time in franchise history, the Patriots were shut out at home twice in a season.

It was the third time in a row that New England gave up 10 or fewer points — and lost. They are the first team to do that since the 1938 Chicago Cardinals.

SUGGESTED: Brandon Staley gets defensive after Chargers squander 4th-quarter lead, lose to Packers

Zappe was sacked five times — two by Khalil Mack, giving him a career-high 15 for the season and 99 in his career. In all, Zappe was 13 for 25 for 141 yards; he did avoid an interception for the first time in three games, the previous two in relief of Jones.

For the third straight game, the Patriots defense kept them in the game until the end. Trailing 6-0 heading into the two-minute warning, Zappe advanced New England from its 13 to near midfield before throwing three straight incompletions. One of them was a long pass that DeVante Parker caught before landing on the sideline.

After taking over on downs, Herbert found Alex Erickson for a 23-yard gain on third-and-11 to allow the Chargers to run out the clock. Herbert completed 22 of 37 passes.

Playing in a cold and steady downpour in front of a half-empty stadium, the Patriots continued their joyless decline from one of the NFL’s most-decorated dynasties to a bumbling mélange of mediocrity.

After sticking with Jones for 11 games — long after it became clear he could not win games — Patriots coach Bill Belichick turned to Zappe and got the same result.

Trailing 3-0 at the first-half two-minute warning, and starting from their 13, the Patriots went: incomplete pass, run for minus-1 yard, false start penalty, incomplete pass, punt that was returned for 34 yards to set up another Chargers field goal.

It was the first time since 1993 that the Patriots failed to score in the first half in back-to-back games, ESPN tweeted. It came after a week in which their game against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs — and Taylor Swift boyfriend Travis Kelce — was flexed out of "Monday Night Football," a first in for the NFL.

And the shivering crowd let them have it, with the first of several choruses of boos.

The Chargers host the Denver Broncos next Sunday, while the Patriots go to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers on Thursday night.