Herbert and Staley reflect on what went wrong in the Jags debacle

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Justin Herbert sat silently by his locker for about 15 minutes, staring into the distance. He took off his boots, but was still wearing his grass-stained uniform.

It was a defining scene for a team ravaged by a collapse no one could have predicted. And it’s become clear: Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers won’t be getting over that loss — the third-largest loss of a lead in postseason history — anytime soon.

The Chargers did little in the second half, allowing Trevor Lawrence to throw four interceptions with four touchdown passes to rally Jacksonville from a 27-0 deficit. On the final play, they lost 31-30 on Riley Patterson’s 36-yard field goal.

“Obviously it was tough for us,” Herbert said. “As an offense we need to do more in the second half and you know that falls on us offensively and defensively. I should have performed better.

“I have to give them more than three points in the second half and so I feel terrible for the defense for the unbelievable effort they gave today. But we need to be better as a team.

Most will point to Lawrence’s heroics as the reason for the 27-point comeback. He completed 24 of his last 31 passes for 258 yards with four touchdowns. He connected with Evan Engram, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones and Christian Kirk before hitting a 2-pointer that put the Jaguars (10-8) down 30-28 and gave them a chance to win rather than tie the game from the field goal

Even then, the Chargers (10-8) did nothing to slow them down.

“Anytime you’re up 27-7 at halftime and you have four takeaways and you end up winning by a takeaway margin (5-0), that’s going to be a killer,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “I feel bad for everyone in this locker room. It’s a special group of guys and it’s the toughest way to lose in the playoffs and certainly with the way we started the game.

“I know this is the team we’re capable of being, and in the second half we just didn’t finish the game.”

It didn’t help that cornerback Michael Davis left the game with a pectoral muscle injury that put rookie Ja’Sear Taylor on the field. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars latched onto him.

It didn’t help that star passer Joey Bose lost his composure and picked up his second personal foul.

“I think he was disappointed,” Staley said. “There were a bunch of things that built up throughout the game. And he tried to negotiate with the officials through it. But we can’t lose our temper like that. We have to make sure we stay on the high side of things. And you can’t harm the team in this way.”

Herbert threw for 273 yards and a touchdown without an interception, but the Chargers offense was largely ineffective after a 62-yard TD drive that made it 24-0 midway through the second quarter. Los Angeles finished with 320 yards of offense and 18 first downs, and yielded just three points on four second-half possessions.

Certainly, Staley will be questioned for being too conservative both defensively and offensively — he went for a fourth-and-3 field goal midway through the fourth quarter that Cameron Dicker missed — and for his didn’t try to control the ball anymore. Los Angeles had 23 punt attempts for 69 yards, a 2.9-yard average, and Herbert threw 43 times.

Herbert was going over all this in his head as he sat silently by his locker.

“As an offense, we need to move the ball better,” he said. “In the air, on the ground, you just have to be able to move the chains, and we didn’t do that enough. We didn’t score enough in the red zone.

“If we get three points in the second half as an offense, that’s our thing. Not executing, not converting on third down when we need to, some penalties. But brutally, brutally.”


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