Social Media QB Justin Herbert Influences Massive Win Over Dolphins

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justin herbert

Two very strange plays with the ball rolling around on the SoFi Stadium turf, one play turned into a crazy touchdown for the Miami Dolphins, the other was the clincher for the Los Angeles Chargers.

That’s right, sometimes the ball does roll the Chargers way.

Justin Herbert was a beast, completing a career-high 39 passes, and Nick Niemann made a big play at the end recovering a Dolphins onside kick that briefly got loose to give Los Angeles a must-have 23-17 win over the Dolphins Sunday night.

If the NFL season ended now. Like….right now. The Chargers would be the seventh seed in the playoffs and get a third crack at the Kansas City Chiefs.

That’s interesting.

Alas, Week 14 isn’t over. Tonight, the (6-6) Patriots play the Cardinals in Arizona.

Charger fans want to root for the Cardinals.

A win by the Patriots makes the Chargers and Patriots each 7-6 and tied for the seventh spot in the playoffs. The fourth AFC tiebreaker is record within your conference.

The Chargers are 5-4 in the conference (that Jaguars loss hurts). The Patriots are 5-3 in the conference and that won’t change Monday night because they’re playing an NFC foe. So the Patriots have the seven spot with a win tonight.

Quick Playoff Scenario

Let’s assume a Patriots win.

There are four teams for the last two spots in the AFC with four weeks to play: the Dolphins (8-5), Chargers (7-6), Jets (7-6) and Patriots (7-6, again assuming a win tonight). I’m also assuming the Bengals are in.

I’m keeping the Dolphins in the mix because I’m just not sold on them. Two weeks ago I wrote that I thought the Dolphins collapsing might be the Chargers best way in. Now the Chargers have the head-to-head tiebreaker against them.

Dolphins schedule from here on out: at Bills, vs. Packers, at Patriots, vs. Jets.

Chargers schedule: vs. Titans, at Colts, vs. Rams, vs. Broncos.

Jets schedule: vs. Lions, vs. Jaguars, at Seahawks, at Dolphins.

Patriots schedule: at Cardinals, vs. Raiders, vs. Bengals, vs. Dolphins and vs. Bills.

The Chargers – yes, really – may have the easiest last four games. The AFC East is going to cannibalize each other. Someone, either the Jets or Dolphins are in trouble. And it honestly might be both.

A Defensive Statement

Everyone wants to talk about Herbert today, with good reason, but the Chargers won Sunday night because of (checks notes) defense?

The Chargers held the Dolphins to 17 points – really 10 because who can count that ridiculous Tyreek Hill fumble recovery return? The 17 points is the fewest the Chargers have given up since Week 9 against the Falcons.

They did it without Derwin James who suddenly has a quad injury (NFL coaches do nothing but lie about injuries). They did it without Joey Bosa, but if you heard on the NBC broadcast there was a strong hint that Bosa will return soon. In other words, they were told things ‘off the record’ that can’t say publicly.

Kyle Van Noy had his best game of the season for the Chargers with a sack and two tackles for loss. Coming into the game the Chargers were giving up over five yards a carry on the ground.

So what did the Dolphins do? They abandoned the running game early and decided to pass all over the field.

The Chargers will say thank you very much. This is still not a good defense, but they do play hard.

Herbert Is The Hero, Part 76

Pretty soon we might have to start doing some Herbert career projections because you watch him play and see the things he does and you’re like, if he can maintain this pace, what record can’t he break?

In 45 games (less than three seasons) Herbert has thrown for 13,056 yards. Drew Brees played in 287 games and threw for over 80,000 yards. Herbert is on pace to go over that. He’s only 24.

Sunday night, honestly, I thought the Chargers came out way pass happy, but what do I know? Herbert was sacked four times. The Dolphins defensive game plan was obvious (I also thought it was kind of stupid) they sent pressure at Herbert all game long.

So Herbert rolled away from the rush, he escaped the rush and he trusted his receivers to make plays one on one. Mike Williams had six catches. Keenan Allen had 12. Austin Ekeler had eight. Why the Dolphins didn’t force Los Angeles to dink and dunk down the field I don’t know.

Collinsworth and friends were talking about people saying Herbert hasn’t been as good this year as last year…these people are idiots. And it’s a dumb narrative. Herbert has played without Allen, without Williams, missing half his starting offensive line. He’s been amazing all season. It’s just that the Chargers defense doesn’t stop anyone.

The Bouncing Ball

Three times the football took a strange bounce Sunday night, and once it went for the Dolphins when offensive lineman Terron Armstead swatted at a fumble and it just happened to trickle to Hill who went 57 yards for a score to make it 10-7.

Later the Charger Curse showed up again. You knew it would.

Late in the game, Chargers driving for a clinching score and Herbert fumbles the snap! But instead of the ball getting kicked or poked and every Charger fan in the world knowing that the Dolphins are about to drive the length of the field for a game-winning TD, Herbert reaches out and snags it.

Down 23-14, Miami gets a field goal and tries an onside kick. Jason Sanders kick (by the way, the Dolphins employ a player who had the most famous onside kick in NFL history and don’t use him) hits off the shin of Joshua Palmer and rolls free.

I watched the play multiple times. Niemann isn’t even on that side of the field when the ball is kicked, but he kept moving to the ball and jumped on it to save the win.

For years the Chargers have had miserable special teams (it’s a depth thing). This year, JK Scott has killed it as a punter. Cameron Dicker doesn’t miss and Sunday night they made a big play to clinch it.

Did You Notice?

The Dolphins punter is former Saint Thomas Morstead. Morstead is the man who kicked the onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV for the Saints sparking them to a 31-17 win over the Colts. The play was called “Ambush.” Not sure why he doesn’t onside-kick for the Dolphins.

So the Chargers went electric blue tops and gold pants and Tre McKitty and Allen each had towels poking out of the back of their jerseys. It looked like the towel like was coming right out from their butts, but no, they had on gold shirts that matched the pants that was covering up the top of the towels. It caught me there for a second.

That was some outfit former Charger LaDainian Tomlinson had on in the stands.

Yes, the roughing the passer call against Jaelan Phillips of the Dolphins in the third quarter was a total joke. Herbert was on the sidelines figuring the drive was over when they threw the flag. What a horrible call.

Quick, who is the Dolphins offensive coordinator? Every Charger broadcast they show Chargers OC Joe Lombardi multiple times and praise him. I like Joe a lot, but he gets the rub because of his last name. Frank Smith is the Dolphins OC.

Chargers safety Alohi Gilman will be on Come On Man tonight, celebrating after the Dolphins fumble, not realizing Hill had the ball and was off and running. Not good.

When Dicker made the 33-yard field goal late in the first quarter, I swear Dolphins defensive end Bradley Chubb was in the handshake line for Dicker and dapped him up for making the kick. Mind games? Or just being friendly?