The Chargers (2-4) came into Sunday's game needing a win desperately. They got it against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6), but it was far from easy. The Chargers broke a four-game losing streak and showed real fight.
"We got the win this week we got that accomplished wasn't pretty, but we didn't think it was going to be easy either," explained head coach Anthony Lynn. "We needed this win in a bad way; they needed a win in a bad way. And we found a way to get it done. So, I was proud of the guys for that. But man, we have a lot of work to do."
The Bolts do have work to do because even though they got the victory, there were somethings that Lynn won't like when he sees the film, but that comes later.
The Chargers offense led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who had another big game. He threw for 347 yards and added three touchdowns. This was his first NFL victory.
"It's an awesome feeling," explained Herbert. "Especially the way things have happened over the past couple of weeks. It's good for us to get out there, execute, put together a full game."
It was important for the Chargers to play four quarters. They had struggled to do that in the last four games, but now the rookie quarterback knows what it takes to win.
In the second quarter, he drove the team down to the 22-yard line. He dropped back and threw a nice pass to tight end Donald Parham, for the touchdown. The team was up 16-0.
The Jaguars answered back on a six-play drive capped off by a James Robinson four-yard touchdown run. Two drives later, Robinson did it again, except this time it was a nine-yard reception in which he ran right at cornerback Casey Hayward and powered into the end zone.
It was 16-14 going into halftime. The Bolts had seen similar leads disappear in the last two weeks.
"I'm looking for leadership on this team for guys who step up and take charge," said Lynn. "For the first time, I didn't say one word that this team before the game, I didn't say one word to this team at halftime, and I just say one word we were down, because I'm looking for players to step up and take charge and, and I feel like they did today."
In the second half, things did get dicey. The Chargers offense went three and out. Ty Long hiked the ball to punt, and Daniel Thomas came right through and blocked the punt. He returned it for a touchdown, and it wasn't looking good for the home team.
"Special teams is not exempt from execution like offense and defense," said Lynn. "They didn't execute that play on the blocked punt. We have a young man who is responsible for that gap. He did not get it done. I do like the fact they went down and caused a fumble and gave off our offense the ball in great field position, and we scored. So, it's a lot to clean up."
Next drive, the offense drives down the field, and they stall at the 30-yard line. Kicker Michael Badgley missed a 48-yard field goal and had already missed an extra point earlier in the game.
"Michael has never been in a stretch like this that I can remember," explained Lynn. "He's going to have to dig deep. He's going to have to come out of it. I have all the confidence in the world in Mike."
The Chargers defense started off the game allowing zero yards to Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew. After the first quarter, he heated up, and along with running back James Robinson, started picking the defense apart at times.
They got a much-needed boost from the return of defensive end Melvin Ingram and defensive tackle Justin Jones. Those additions helped the defense sack Minshew five times.
"I feel like we played good," said Ingram. "At the end of the day, when you hold a team to less points than we got, you definitely played good. But it's always areas we can clean up. So, we going to get back in the lab tomorrow and see what we can clean up."
The defense gave the offense energy when the Jags go for it on fourth down on their own 46, Minshew decided to take off running, and safety Rayshawn Jenkins shot out of a cannon to stop him.
The Chargers offense again drove down the field. Herbert dropped back and found tight end Virgil Green for the 26-yard touchdown. Herbert hit two different tight ends for touchdowns.
"Really happy for them," explained Herbert. "They always step up big time, and they had a great week of practice. And I knew that they were going to step up big today. It's really great to see those guys excelling as well as they are."
The Jags would answer back when Minshew found receiver Chris Conley for the 28-yard touchdown.
Three plays later, Herbert answered back when he hit receiver Jalen Guyton for a 70-yard touchdown reception.
"We saw man coverage," explained Herbert. "Knew that Jalen Guyton is a special guy on the outside like that. Anytime you get a matchup like that, you want to give him a shot, and he got past the guy, great protection put the ball up, and he made a great catch and somehow avoided the tackle got in the endzone."
Next play, special teams made up for previous errors when linebacker Malik Jefferson made Dede Westbrook fumble on the kickoff return. Chargers recovered.
In this game, not only did Herbert have a good game with his arm, but he was a force with his legs as well. After having a 31-yard run and other scrambles for first downs, he had another opportunity to show his athleticism in the redzone. He snapped the ball and rolled to his right, takes off running towards the end zone side steps linebacker Joe Schobert and lunges into the end zone. He finished the game with 66 yards rushing and a touchdown.
"Anytime you are able to keep the ball and force them to play 11 on 11, it's big for us," explained the rookie quarterback.
The deciding factor came after the Jags punted in the next drive.
Could the Chargers finish this game off?
Herbert drove his team down to the 17-yard line. Badgley came in to attempt to put the game away. He hit a 35-yard field goal.
The Chargers got the ball back after the Jags turned it over on downs.
Then victory formation to finish the game.
"It's huge," said Herbert. "It's a big step forward and something that we're going to build off learn from and still got to watch the film get better from some things. But moving forward. It's a big step for us."