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5 Takeaways: JK Scott's Epic Performance Leads Bolts to Wet Win


The Chargers are 5-7 after Sunday's 6-0 win over the Patriots.

Here are five takeaways from Week 13:

1. JK Scott = MVP

JK Scott earned a game ball after Sunday's win.

The Chargers punter may have well been the Bolts MVP given his superb performance.

"He's a weapon," Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said. "And he has been for us for two years.

"In a game like that, when it becomes a defensive and field position game, you're going to need your specialists to come alive," Staley added. "We were really able to flip the field and get momentum. That was a way we were able to gain momentum in the game. He was fantastic."

Scott punted eight total times against the Patriots. He landed seven of them inside the 20-yard line to set a Chargers single-game franchise record.

And on a day when points and offensive highlights were at a premium, it was Scott who helped guide the Bolts to a much-needed win.

"There's some games where you don't punt as much and there's not as much of a role, and today there was obviously more punts and you're playing more of a role," Scott said. "I really, really was happy with how I played.

"Really more just my mindset, I was just having so much fun," Scott added. "Not worried about results, not worrying about performance, just trying to go out there and have fun like a little kid playing ball."

Scott may have had a youthful mindset, but he looked like an All-Pro.

The success started early when he boomed a 50-yard punt that ended with a minus-5 yard return after strong coverage from AJ Finley and Blake Lynch.

Scott then kicked it into another gear with a 53-yard punt that went out of bounds at the 6, a 29-yard punt that went out of bounds at the 9 and a 52-yard punt that was caught for a fair catch at the 9.

Scott later got off his longest punt of the day — a 62-yarder — that only went for a 5-yard return.

Then came perhaps his best punt of the day, a 41-yarder that spun toward the left sideline and pinned the Patriots at the 2.

"To be honest with you, I wasn't even trying to do that," Scott said. "I was just trying to hit a high ball and it was so windy that, I [hit] a high ball to the left, but the wind kind of pushed it out. So that was kind of a good situation."

Scott later landed his seventh and final punt inside the 20 to cap off a historic day.

And he did it all in a driving rainstorm.

"The [conditions] were actually not super challenging to be honest because of this guy right here, because of Josh Harris," Scott said while slapping the long snapper on the shoulder at his locker.

"He was on us all week about doing wet ball drills in practice so we were drenching the balls every single day and just working that," Scott added. "We were ready to go, we were prepared on field goal and punt."

Harris, a 12-year veteran who is the Bolts longest-tenured NFL player, explained his approach.

"You see that there's a good chance of rain and obviously we don't get a whole lot of rain in Southern California," Harris said. "Making sure we get a lot of reps, as many as we can, trying to simulate that situation so that when we get in the game it doesn't surprise us and we're kind of used to it.

"He did a heck of a job today handling the snaps, the holds," Harris said. "Really, really proud of JK today."

Scott's teammates echoed that sentiment.

"We've for so much belief in him," Justin Herbert said. "He's done such a great job all year and to have a guy who can flip the field, especially in a game as tight as this, it was super helpful to our team. Top be able to pin someone back like that, it's so big for our team."

Derwin James, Jr. added: "We knew if JK flipped the field we'll have a chance to stop them and they did an amazing job."

Deane Leonard said: "Especially when it's a rainy day like this, it's a defensive game, field position is so important. So him being able to hang it up like that changes the game. It changes the numbers of the game and allows us to be in better spots all the time."

Scott's heroics were part of an overall great special teams performance from the Bolts.

Cameron Dicker hit a pair of 38-yard field goals for the game's only points, the latter of which was set up by a 34-yard punt return by Derius Davis late in the second quarter.

Staley credited Chargers Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken and assistant special teams coach Chris Gould for helping revitalize a unit that was one of the worst in the league a few years ago.

"From the beginning, that's been a huge goal of ours, is to improve that unit. When we got here was among the worst in the NFL and now we're among the best in the NFL," Staley said. "I think these last two weeks playing against Baltimore and New England, they're two of the top special teams units perennially in the league.

"Ryan and Chris have been awesome and then we've invested a lot in our specialists and our core special teams guys. I think you've seen our young guys that we drafted three years ago, they're all a part of our core teams," Staley added. "It was big for us today and we needed it."

2. A wet win

The Chargers didn't win any style points in this one.

"December game. Good NFL football game. Good football weather," Staley said.

With the temperature hovering near 40 degrees all day, the Chargers also had to contend with a constant downpour and swirling 10mph winds on the East Coast.

It's safe to say the conditions weren't ideal.

"Real tough," James said. "Foxborough already a tough place to play and then the rain today didn't make it any better but no other way to have it."

Herbert added: "It was a tough game out there. The rain, we knew coming into the game that we would have to deal with it. I thought we did a good job practicing throughout the week [to get] prepared for it. We did our best and we battled."

All that mattered to the Chargers, however, was getting a win to snap a three-game skid.

"Whatever that level is, probably the highest. 10 out of 10 is probably how I would explain it," Staley said when asked how much the Bolts needed Sunday's victory.

The Chargers now sit at 5-7 and return home for AFC West play against Denver, which is 6-6.

Get an inside look at the postgame celebration from the Chargers 6 - 0 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

3. Defense pitches a shutout

James knew the Bolts were pitching a shutout at halftime against the Patriots.

As the Chargers captain made their way into the locker room at the break, he made sure to let his teammates know where they stood.

"Nobody was really paying attention to it until halftime," Tuli Tuipulotu said. "DJ was all like, 'I ain't never had a shutout before'.

"I'm like, 'Oh, they have zero points.' We just kept playing ball and keeping routine plays," Tuipulotu added. "We don't play for a shutout but we play and do our jobs and we get rewarded with a shutout."

James added: "First one, it feels good."

The Bolts pitched their first shutout since Week 7 of the 2017 season that came in a 21-0 win over the Broncos.

The Chargers defense limited New England to just 109 net passing yards and also held the Patriots to just four conversions on 14 third-down tries.

The Patriots never even made it inside the red zone Sunday, as the closest they got was the Chargers 28-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

And while it was another one-score game for the Chargers, Sunday's contest took on a different feel that the high-scoring affairs we've seen most of the season.

"What our guys did is they really locked in and focused on what type of game it was going to be," Staley said. "It took that mindset all the way until the last play for us to be totally focused for an entire game, 60 minute game and doing what it takes.

"I told the team, that's what you have to do in the NFL. Sometimes the games are a track meet, 41-38," Staley added. "Sometimes there's a game like today, 6-0, you have to do what it takes to win. And I thought that was a good step for us."

4. Bolts win turnover battle

The Bolts talked all week about how they likely needed to win the turnover battle in order to win in Week 13.

Even in the sloppiest of conditions, they accomplished both goals.

Tuipulotu forced the game's lone turnover in the first quarter when he made a tackle for loss on a run play while stripping and recovering the ball all at the same time.

"I didn't meant to strip the ball but I just tackled him and it came out," Tuipulotu said.

"I just grabbed it, held it like a baby. I couldn't let go of that, I was staying on the ground for a long time," Tuipulotu added.

And offensively, even though the Bolts battled some drops, they did not commit a turnover for the first time in four games.

"Ball security is big. That's one thing we always talk about is limiting the turnovers. Anytime you're able to do that in a weather game like that, it was huge for our offense," Herbert said.

The Chargers offense put up just 241 total yards and converted on just five of 15 third downs.

But they were able to ice the game late — on a 23-yard completion to Alex Erickson — to cap off a clean game in terms of turnovers and sacks.

"Our guys were able to make one play at the end to seal it. That's what we needed to do on offense," Staley said. "We took care of the ball today, there were no turnovers, there were no sacks and we made a big play there at the end to finish it for us."

5. Mack closes in on 100

Khalil Mack is closing in on history, all while continuing to make more of it each week.

The Chargers outside linebacker had a pair of sacks Sunday to match his career-high of 15.0 that he set back in 2015.

Mack, who is now 32, became the seventh player in NFL history to tally at least 14.0 sacks at age 32 or older since 1982.

After the game, Mack credited those around him, including outside linebackers coach Giff Smith, for helping him feel young and thrive.

"All credit to Coach Staley, Coach Giff, Tuli and the guys up front … and then the guys covering in the back end," Mack said. "It's team ball. We're playing great team ball right now and just getting ready for the next one. We got to get ready for the Broncos."

Mack then gave a specific shoutout to his wife and two kids.

"They make getting through the week a lot easier," Mack said. "[My wife] makes it easy when I get home so I can chill and then play with them. Week-to-week, I feel like that's been the biggest spark so far."

As the Bolts prepare for Week 14 against Denver, Mack now sits at 99.5 career sacks and will look to get the century mark on Sunday.

"He just has a high motor. He's just all over the field," Tuipulotu said. "Y'all got to watch the tape and see how much he'll be flying around and running to the ball.

"Sometimes if you just play hard, stuff just come to you," Tuipulotu added. "He's like the definition of just playing hard every play and them boom, it's rewarded. GOAT."

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