Chargers come up short against Lions

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Justin Herbert had a phenomenal Sunday afternoon throwing the football against the Detroit Lions. How good was Herbert? Well, for the first time since September, the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback cracked the 300-yard passing marker in a game. 

All totaled, Herbert passed for 323 yards and tossed four touchdowns as the Chargers put 38 points on the scoreboard against the AFC North visitors. Putting up 38 points and going over 300 yards in passing along with multiple touchdowns should be enough to win most football games. 

Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James (3) is in a tackling mood against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game played at SoFi Stadium on Nov. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Sammy Saludo/News4usonline

“I thought that Justin was fantastic in the game,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said after the game. “I thought he gave us a chance. We started off slow in the game, but then we scored on our last five drives of the football game. I thought we felt like we could move the football, run our paths. I thought the pace really helped us. He made a couple big plays with his legs. I think in that those critical down-and-distances, the third downs and the fourth downs, we were really good.”

As special as Herbert played, the Chargers fell short of points against the Lions. That’s because thanks to well-balanced offensive game-planning, Detroit piled up 533 yards in total offense and escaped with a 41-38 win, thanks to a 41-yard field goal with no time left in the game by Riley Patterson. 

“There’s a lot of fight in this team,” said Herbert, who completed 27 of 40 passes and did not take a sack. “Obviously, not the outcome that we would have wanted, but those guys didn’t quit. Offense, defense, and special teams, they gave everything they had for all four quarters, and we fell short. It wasn’t good enough today, but I don’t question the effort, the dedication by this team.”

The matchup between the Chargers and the Lions was a back-and-forth chess match with the team holding the ball last would likely win the game. After the Chargers tied the game at the 3: 34 mark in the fourth quarter following a 38-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Keenan Allen, the Lions played keep away from Los Angeles for the rest of the game. 

“Well, we had the ball last,” Detroit head coach Dan Campbell said. “Yeah, I wanted to finish with the ball. I trusted our guys and trust [Lions quarterback Jared] Goff. Going into that situation, there can be a lot of time left if you kick a field goal. So, I just wanted to finish with the ball in our hands. I liked where we’re at, offensively We’re playing good, Goff was in a good spot, I felt like that was the right thing to do.”

Herbert and the Chargers’ offense couldn’t get their hands on the ball again and had to watch the Lions convert a huge fourth down play on the last drive of the game to put themselves in position to win the ballgame. 

“Losing is never fun, but I thought that we battled today,” Herbert said. “There are a lot of good things that we can look at this film and say, ‘We can build off this.’ But, there were a lot of things in the first quarter that we didn’t do a good job of, and I didn’t do a good job of in the first quarter. If we’re not fighting back, maybe the story goes differently. Those are the things that we’re going to look at when we watch this film and realize, ‘Hey, at least we turned it around, we did our best in the second half, but if we’re not put in that position, if I’m not turning the ball over in the first quarter, maybe the story looks different.’”

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) picks up yardage against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game played at SoFi Stadium on Nov. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Sammy Saludo/News4usonline

Things certainly would have turned out differently if the Chargers had gotten off to a faster start. The Chargers gave up 10 points in the first quarter and before they could blink, found themselves down 17-3 in the second period. The Chargers got back into the game by playing with a lot of urgency. 

That manifested in the Chargers running a no-huddle offense for the greater part of the rest of the game. The move proved to be effective. With Herbert and the offense moving with more fluidity, the Chargers cut Detroit’s lead enough to come within one score. It also allowed the Chargers to score 21 points in the second half. 

Herbert said the no-huddle offense was something that was birthed out of necessity and game-planning.   

“I think, maybe, a little bit of both,” Herbert remarked. “Having to come back like that, offensively, not being able to move the ball in the first quarter like that, I think it’s one of those things that we looked at and said, ‘Hey, if we get on the ball, maybe we can start scoring some points like that. We can cut the deficit a little bit.'” 

Top Photo: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) passed for 323 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-38 defeat to the Detroit Lions on Nov. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Sammy Saludo/News4usonline

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