Charger fans wake up Friday morning with two major questions.
Is Justin Herbert OK?
And how did we let that one slip away?
The Kansas City Chiefs roared back from 10 points down to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 on Amazon’s Thursday Night Football. The spread was 4/4.5 at most books, and the Chargers used a late fourth quarter touchdown to seal the cover.
Basically, the whole game came down to the Chiefs running back an interception for a touchdown and the Chargers – at least three times – dropping potential game-changing interceptions.
It was a night where Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked great at times, and rather pedestrian at times. It was a night where Mike Williams stepped up big for the Chargers with two sensational touchdown catches, but at the end Herbert was rocked after the Chargers lost two starters on the offensive line.
Let’s ask the big questions.
What Does It Mean?
The sky is not falling and the season is not over for the Chargers. They are now 1-1 with a few days off and a game against the triple-A Jacksonville Jaguars next week. The Chiefs are 2-0.
No one can win the AFC West in September, but this was a chance for the Chargers to make a statement against their rivals. The return match is Nov. 20 in LA in Week 11. There’s lots of football to be played until then.
How Hurt Is Justin Herbert?
Charger fans should be scared to check Twitter today and see if one of the bonafide NFL insiders has a tweet saying Herbert has a serious injury and will miss some time.
Herbert took some shots from the Chiefs, but came up especially lame late in the fourth quarter after absorbing a shot from Chiefs linebacker Mike Danna.
It wasn’t a dirty hit, in fact on replay, Danna seemed to do exactly what you’re supposed to and kind of slide off Herbert as he was taking him to the ground.
However, Hebert’s back/side seemed to land on Danna’s helmet. Herbert came out for a play (the corpse of Chase Daniel handed the ball off), then went back in and came up strangely lame while attempting to throw a pass a few plays later after rolling out. On the next play he zipped a 35-yard dart to DeAndre Carter which set up the Chargers last TD.
From my couch, with my journalism degree on the wall (so I’m no doctor) it looked like a rib injury to me. I’ve cracked two ribs before, falling on a trail run, and you can still do things with that kind of injury, but I think the running/twisting for Herbert was too much.
People think you can hurt your ribs from absorbing a shot head-on, but it’s not true, you can hurt them from a shot from the back as well.
The NFL is a liars league when it comes to injuries, and even if Herbert has a cracked/broken rib, I would be surprised it to be put on the injury report or anything. Of if they are broken, watch the Chargers call it a “contusion” or some mumbo-jumbo. NFL quarterbacks can play with a rib protector, which can cut down on their mobility, but you can still play.
He Was Tired!
Chiefs defensive back Jaylen Watson is getting great attention for his Pick Six in the fourth quarter, which essentially was the game’s biggest play. He’s a rookie seventh round pick, and his play was a 14-point swing. Instead of leading 24-17, the Chargers were down 24-17.
On the play before, Herbert had found tight end Gerald Everett for a big gain down to the Chiefs 3. Then Everett flashed the “I’m tired” sign patting his helmet and clearly gesturing that he needed to come out of the game.
We can debate all we want whether or not Everett should have been tired at that point, but there’s no question what he was signaling.
The Chargers tried to quick snap the next play, Everett ran a lazy route, kind of drifting into the open space left by the Chiefs zone, Herbert fired, and Watson picked the ball off. As Watson was running, Everett barely moved out of the end zone, cementing the fact that he was the wrong person at the wrong time to throw the ball to.
The Chargers missed a huge chance to put the game away, twice, in the third quarter. LA led 17-7 after the Mike Williams one-handed TD grab. Mahomes looked – I don’t know – sort of disinterested at times? He chucked a pass downfield and it was picked off by Derwin James, but the Chargers were called for pass interference.
On the next play, Mahomes threw another lazy pass which Chargers defensive back Asante Samuel Jr. had in his hands, the ball hit off his knee, and then Samuel Jr. grabbed it, but couldn’t complete the catch and the ball brushed the ground.
That was the gift from the Football Gods.
Samuel Jr. also later had a potential Pick Six in his hands on the last play of the third quarter, but couldn’t make the play.
If the Chargers make any of those interceptions, they win the game.
Did You Notice?
I say this after watching every NFL game, the league needs to do something about defensive pass interference. Why? Because it rewards quarterbacks who make bad throws. Underthrow your receiver by five yards? You get the call because the receiver tries to fight back to the ball, while the defender is in a good position. I swear it’s almost intentional by good quarterbacks.
The hidden thing to be worried about this morning? The health of Chargers center Corey Linsley and tackle Trey Pipkins III. Linsley didn’t play in the second half and Pipkins came out late in the game.
Wow, Mike Williams was really good Thursday night, wasn’t he?
So was DeAndre Carter. He had three catches for 55 yards and showed burst on special teams again.
Two weeks in and I still think I’d rather the Sony Michel carries go to Josh Kelley.
The Chiefs went Old School with their field design for their home opener, using the original logos in the end zone from when they started play at Arrowhead in 1972. It did take me a while to figure out what the icon was in the middle of the field, but it was an A with a triangle underneath for Arrowhead Stadium. Now it’s something called GEHA field.
I thought the Amazon broadcast was fine, but I did have some issues with the DVR capability. Trying to rewind plays a few times my broadcast froze and I had to log off and start over again. But Amazon did a great job, did anyone else notice the Amazon logo/swoop arrow on the field for the down-and-distance graphic?