The San Diego Chargers got a harsh taste of reality from Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
If they're going to hold on and make the playoffs, the Chargers are going to have to do a lot better than they did Sunday night.
Brady threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman midway through the fourth quarter, and New England beat the San Diego Chargers 23-14 for its eighth win in nine games.
San Diego (8-5) was shut out in the second half.
"We just didn't get it done, collectively," safety Eric Weddle said. "The teams coming up are going to be just like this."
The Patriots (10-3) clinched their 12th straight 10-win season for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. They spent the week in San Diego following a loss at Green Bay in order to cut down on late-season travel.
New England went ahead 16-14 on Stephen Gostkowski's 38-yard field goal with 10:34 left.
After forcing the Chargers to punt, the Patriots started on their 31. Brady faked a handoff and hit Edelman on a slant at about the 45. He broke two tackles and was gone.
"That was the back-breaker for us," Weddle said. "We had to make a tackle and maybe we hold them."
Brady completed 28 of 44 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Edelman caught eight passes for 141 yards.
The Chargers dropped from the No. 5 playoff seed to No. 6. Up next is a home game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who lead the Chargers by two games in the AFC West.
Philip Rivers was off all night, completing 20 of 33 passes for only 189 yards. The offense scored only one touchdown.
"We just didn't play well," Rivers said. "They were the reason for a lot of that. But we had some things that were self-inflicted as well. It wasn't our best day, obviously. Anytime you score seven points in this league you're not going to win any games."
The game had several momentum swings.
After Stephen Gostkowski kicked his second 22-yard field goal of the first half, 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, Rob Gronkowski caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brady to pull the Patriots to 14-13.
Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history with four seasons of 10 or more scoring receptions.
The Chargers scored twice in 2 minutes, 33 seconds in the second quarter.
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 Philip Rivers.
Safety Jahleel Addae forced Brandon LaFell to fumble after a reception and Stuckey picked it up and ran it in.
Manti Te'o leaped to make his first career interception just before halftime, preserving the Chargers' 14-13 lead.
With the Patriots looking to go ahead, Brady tried to hit 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.
"There are no excuses around here. We didn't do enough to win the game," outside linebacker Dwight Freeney said.
"We're hurting," Weddle said. "it's a tough loss for us. We fought and battled and were so close but we couldn't get a stop or get as score and find a way to win.
"It will sting for a few days."