The San Diego Chargers carried a 14-13 lead over the New England Patriots into the final period after the teams traded punts during a scoreless third quarter.
Akeem Ayers intercepted San Diego's Philip Rivers at the New England 30 late in the third, but the drive ended with the Patriots' fourth punt of the period.
Brandon Browner was whistled for a personal foul for hitting Chargers tight end Ladarius Green in the head with his shoulder. After lying on the ground for several minutes, Green walked off the field although he appeared wobbly.
The Chargers moved to the Patriots 32 before wide receiver Malcom Floyd was whistled for pass interference and Rivers was intercepted.
San Diego's defense continued to come up with big plays. With the Patriots looking at third-and-6 from the Chargers 48, rookie outside linebacker Jerry Attaochu batted down Brady's pass intended for Tim Wright.
Manti Te'o leaped to make his first career interception just before halftime, preserving the Chargers' lead.
With the Patriots looking to go ahead, Tom Brady tried to hit tight end Rob Gronkowski on second-and-10 from the Chargers 18. But Te'o, the second-year linebacker from Notre Dame, picked off the under-thrown pass at the 4.
Safety Darrell Stuckey returned a fumble 53 yards for a touchdown and Malcom Floyd made a diving catch of a 15-yard touchdown pass from Rivers, swinging the momentum to the Chargers.
The two scores came in a span of 2 minutes, 33 seconds.
On third-and-7 from the 15, Floyd got behind Brandon Browner and hauled in Rivers' pass for a 7-3 lead.
Four plays into the ensuing Patriots drive, safety Jahleel Addae forced Brandon LaFell to fumble after a reception and Stuckey picked it up and ran it in.
After Stephen Gostkowski kicked his second 22-yard field goal of the first half, the Patriots got a momentum switch of their own when Brandon Bolden blocked a punt by Mike Scifres to give New England the ball on the San Diego 28. Scifres hurt his left shoulder on the play and was carted off the field.
Four plays into the drive, Gronkowski caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brady to pull the Patriots within one point.
Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history with four seasons of 10 or more scoring receptions.
The Patriots moved from their 5-yard line to the San Diego 1 on their first possession before Brady threw an incompletion and then was sacked by Melvin Ingram.
Shareece Wright blocked Gostkowski's 26-yard field goal attempt and Brandon Flowers returned it for a touchdown, but it was negated by an offside call against Wright. Gostkowski then made a 22-yarder.
The Patriots spent the week in San Diego after their loss at Green Bay last Sunday in order to cut down on late-season travel.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft took a helicopter to the game after watching his New England Revolution lose the MLS Cup to the LA Galaxy in Carson.
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