November 25, 2020
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Bolts fans can rejoice as their team returns to the win column for the first time since Week 1. Photo by Glenn Marshall.


By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor

INGLEWOOD, Calif. 

Sweet, sweet victory. 

Quarterback Justin Herbert had achieved various milestones in his first four starts for the Los Angeles Chargers, but had yet to accomplish the one thing that mattered most: lead his team to a win. 

Herbert had another fantastic outing on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but this time his effort resulted in a victory. The rookie threw for a season-high 347 yards and three touchdowns while running for another score as the Chargers defeated the Jaguars 39-29 to snap a four-game losing streak, giving Herbert his first career NFL win. 

“I think we put together a full game,” Herbert said in the postgame press conference. “It’s an awesome feeling especially considering how the past couple of games have gone. It got dicey when they blocked the punt in the third quarter, but we never got down on ourselves.” 

Herbert has been faced with the challenge of the offense falling on his shoulders since the running game has been struggling without Austin Ekeler. Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. 

The Chargers (2-4) blew another double-digit lead in the game for the fourth time in five games, but were able to rally and seal the win this time. The Jaguars (1-6) took a 29-22 lead in the third quarter when Los Angeles regained command to score the final 17 points of the game. 

Herbert’s big play of the day came on a 70-yard touchdown with wide receiver Jaylen Guyton right up the sideline to tie the game at 29 with 1:56 left in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Los Angeles was able to recover a fumble deep in Jaguars territory to set up Herbert’s rushing touchdown from five yards out to put the Chargers in front 36-29. Kicker Michael Badgley tacked on a field goal to give Los Angeles a 10-point lead that would hold until the end of the game.

“That was growth, we could have easily said, ‘Here we go again. We’ve had a lead, we’ve lost a lead and here we go again,’ but I love the way the team fought back and took control of that game,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said in Monday’s press conference.

The Chargers had jumped ahead 16-0 in the second quarter before Jacksonville was able to respond by scoring 21 unanswered points to go up by five early in the third quarter. The Jaguars did not get a first down until about 20 minutes into the game, but only found themselves down 16-14 at halftime. Jags running back James Robinson put Jacksonville on the board with a four-yard run and caught a nine-yard pass for his second score of the half. 

Jacksonville went up 21-16 when a blocked Chargers punt was returned for a touchdown on special teams with 13:21 left in the third quarter. 

Bolts tight end Virgil Green put LA back in front 22-21 with a 26-yard reception, but the 2-point conversion following the score failed. 

Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew found Chris Conley for a 28-yard score to retake the lead, converting the 2-point attempt to put Jacksonville up by seven. 

STATS, FACTS, AND FIGURES

Tight end Donald Parham Jr. had his second career reception go for a touchdown as he connected with Herbert on a 22-yard pass in the second quarter that extended the lead 16-0.

Herbert, selected sixth overall by the Chargers in the 2020 NFL Draft, added 66 yards on the ground, a single-game high for a Chargers QB. He joined fellow 2020 draft class member Joe Burrow as the only other rookie to throw for at least 300 yards, at least three touchdowns and run for one score. Burrow accomplished the feat earlier in the day for the Cincinnati Bengals in their 37-34 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Nearly half of his rushing yards came on a read-option play that Herbert took for 31 yards on the opening drive, which helped set up Badgley’s first field goal of the day. Speaking of Badgley…

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Badgley has been in a slight slump that could cost him his job if the slump continues. He made two field goals but missed an extra point for the second straight week and missed wide left from 48 yards out. The special teams unit as a whole struggled on Sunday. Ty Long had a punt blocked that was returned for a touchdown, while the punt and kickoff coverage units are near the bottom of the league in average yards. 

Los Angeles was able to come away with a victory despite the trouble on special teams, but that was against an AFC bottom feeder. The team will need to be sharper on all three phases if they want to make a push for a wild-card spot. 

INJURIES

Tight end Virgil Green suffered a sprained ankle on his third quarter touchdown reception and will likely miss the next two games. Lynn said the team is awaiting further test results before determining if they should place him on the injured reserve. Parham, who’s caught two passes for two touchdowns this season, will likely move to the backup spot. 

Right guard Ryan Groy suffered a biceps injury in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game. His status for next week is questionable. 

UPDATE IN THE STANDINGS

After their Week 8 matchup, Los Angeles moves to an overall record of 2-4 in the AFC West, tied for third with the Denver Broncos who have the same record. Both the Broncos and Chargers are 0-1 in their division. The Las Vegas Raiders are in second place at .500 with a 3-3 record while the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are in first place at 6-1, with their only loss coming against Las Vegas.

Jacksonville moves to a 1-6 record, tied with the Houston Texans for third place in the AFC South. Houston currently has a better division record (1-1) than the Jaguars (1-2). The Indianapolis Colts are in second place at 4-2 and the Tennessee Titans are in first place with a 5-1 record.

UP NEXT

Jaguars: Jacksonville is heading into its bye week to regroup before they host the Texans in Week 8. Houston won the first meeting between the AFC South rivals 30-14 on Oct. 11.
Chargers: Los Angeles will look to snap a seven-game losing streak against divisional opponents when they travel to Colorado to face the Broncos. It will be the first matchup against Melvin Gordon, who led the Chargers rushing attack for the first five seasons of his career. Gordon signed with Denver this past offseason.

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