FOXBOROUGH - Rosevelt Colvin, sick of hearing whimpers from the West Coast all week about last year's AFC Divisional playoff game, had a message for the still-perturbed and revenge-seeking Chargers: "Calm down and let's go play football."
Colvin certainly showed up to play last night in the Patriots' home opener against San Diego at Gillette Stadium. His pair of sacks, pair of forced fumbles, and interception highlighted a strong defensive performance by the Patriots in their 38-14 win.
"I told him whatever ritual he had for this weekend he had to keep that for the season," teammate Adalius Thomas said.
It was a big night for New England's linebackers. In the second quarter, Thomas returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown, and in the fourth, Colvin and Mike Vrabel dropped San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers 20 yards on back-to-back sacks to seal what was a blowout pretty much from the get-go.
"It was a combination of our offense giving us the opportunity to rest on the sidelines," Colvin said of the consecutive takedowns, "and we go back out there and [defensive coordinator] Dean [Pees] gave us a good call. The guys who are covering did a great job giving us the opportunity to get to the quarterback."
Colvin was one of the players who mocked Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman's sack dance after the Patriots' 24-21 playoff win in January. He didn't get into any mimicry last night, but it was evident he was fired up. There was some yipping and yapping out there.
"There was more [jawing] than in a typical game," Colvin said. "The last game we played against them we talked back and forth the whole game. They're competitors just like we are."
Colvin, who led the Patriots with 8.5 sacks and 26 quarterback hits last year, had a less-than-spectacular season debut last week against the Jets. His name did not even show up on the defensive stat sheet. He let Laveranues Coles slip by for a 7-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
But Colvin made a statement early last night, picking off Rivers at the San Diego 28 on the Chargers' first play from scrimmage. Later in the first quarter, Colvin came off the edge, flew past tight end Brandon Manumaleuna and strip-sacked Rivers. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork recovered the fumble and the turnover led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
His two sacks gave Colvin 50.5 career sacks, the sixth-highest total among active NFL linebackers.
"Rosevelt had a monster game," Wilfork said. "He was a different Rosevelt. He worked on some little things this week and it paid off. He's always been a great pass rusher, which he showed again tonight and my hat goes off to him and hopefully he can continue to do that for us, because we're going to need some of those plays down the road."
Thomas's interception return for a touchdown gave the Patriots a 24-0 lead.
"It was just dropping back and reading the quarterback," Thomas said. "When he [threw it] I broke on it and caught it. I dropped one last week, so I told them I owed them one. So it was a good thing and I just ran like Forrest [Gump]."
Early in the first quarter against the Jets, Thomas came close to picking off Chad Pennington's short pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery, but didn't come up with the ball.
He hung on last night and beat wide receiver Malcolm Floyd, his closest pursuer, to the end zone.
"I didn't hear any footsteps, but I looked up at the Jumbotron," Thomas said. "You don't look behind you. I mean you look back and tend to slow down so I just took a peak at the Jumbotron. A kick returner one time told me to do that so that's what I did."
It was the seventh career interception for Thomas, the Patriots' prized offseason defensive acquisition, and his third career interception return for a TD.
"That dude," Colvin said, "we talked about that over the offseason, him scoring all those touchdowns. You see the reason Bill [Belichick] brought him in. You see the types of plays he's able to make. Not just being able to make the interception, but to take it all the way to the house and that's a tremendous asset for us."