At least quarterback Justin Herbert is establishing star credentials, even if he became the starter earlier than planned because a team doctor punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung while giving him an injection. And still, the Chargers lost. In overtime. Again.
L.A. couldn’t stop Drew Brees from the biggest comeback of his career, from 17 points down to a 30-27 victory. The Chargers fell to 1-4, with their losses by a total of 18 points. Since the start of last season, they’re 3-13 in one-score games and 6-15 overall despite being outscored by only 23 total points.
The Saints tied for the third-largest “Monday Night Football” comeback win since 2010. In 2012, the Denver Broncos rallied from 24 down to beat the Chargers; the 2013 Houston Texans rallied from 21 down to beat — seeing a theme here? — the Chargers; the Pittsburgh Steelers also rallied from 17 down to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017.
It’s more than a little dispiriting for Chargers fans, but there is reason for hope and it comes in the form of the rookie quarterback from Oregon. Herbert has passed for seven touchdowns in the past two games. At 22 years 216 days, he became the youngest quarterback with four passing touchdowns on “Monday Night Football.”
He has passed for 1,195 yards, the third-most passing yards over a player’s first four career games in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Herbert gives them a chance to win, in short, but the Chargers habitually fail to convert those chances into wins.
On Monday, they took a 20-3 first-half lead and despite the Saints’ comeback had a chance to win in regulation after Herbert hit Mike Williams on a 29-yard pass to the New Orleans 32-yard line with eight seconds left and the score tied. But Michael Badgley’s 50-yard field goal attempt clipped the right upright, and the teams headed to overtime. After the Saints won the coin toss, Brees drove his team for a field goal, giving the Chargers another chance to win it with a touchdown. But Williams was tackled by Marshon Lattimore just shy of a first down on fourth down. Game over.
The sobering bottom line is that Herbert, for all his star power and glitzy stats, is 0-4, with two losses in overtime by three points and the others by five and seven points.
One problem is protection. “My quarterback,” Coach Anthony Lynn said, “was running for his life.”
Although he was praised by Brees and Saints Coach Sean Payton for his potential, Herbert wasn’t happy. “To be so close in these last four games,” he said Monday night, “it hurts a lot.”