Patriots score TDs on punt return, blocked field goal return to cap banner first half

One week after having a punt return for a touchdown called back by penalty, Gunner Olszewski finally received the reward for his efforts in the second quarter of the New England Patriots' road game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

Olszewski, nicknamed "Gun Show" by teammates, blazed down the right sideline for a 70-yard return to give the Patriots a 14-0 lead.

It was the Patriots' first punt return for a touchdown since 2014 against the Broncos.

Olszewski, a second-year player from Bemidji State, could have had his second return for a score in two weeks. But rookie Anfernee Jennings was called for a blindside block last week against the Cardinals in a close call (Jennings was not fined for the block).

Against the Chargers, Olszewski followed solid blocks by veteran Donte Moncrief, special teams captain Matthew Slater, practice-squad call-up Rashod Berry and veterans Adrian Phillips and Justin Bethel on his way to the end zone.

The Patriots later capped their best half of the season with captain Devin McCourty returning a blocked field goal 44 yards for a touchdown, as they took a 28-0 lead into halftime.

Veteran Cody Davis, who was signed in the offseason as a free agent because of his special-teams prowess, surged over the defensive right side to block kicker Michael Badgley's 58-yard attempt. The long field goal attempt came with three seconds remaining on the clock, as the Chargers had driven into position to attempt the long kick on the final play of the half.

Davis came in unblocked as Chargers tight end Stephen Anderson -- aligned as the left wing -- found himself split between blocking Davis or Bethel.

That gave the Patriots two special-teams touchdowns in the same game for the third time in the past 20 seasons, and the first time since 2018 at the Bears.