The relationship has been building since Brandon Staley was hired. He knew he had a franchise quarterback the minute he signed on the dotted line. In Sunday's 30-24 victory, he trusted his franchise quarterback to finish out the game in Kansas City.
The Chargers threw a lot at Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the offense, but they knew it would come down to scoring touchdowns.
Coming into Sunday, the offense had only scored three touchdowns in two games.
"I felt like that was a big story in the game because you can't trade field goals with that team," Staley said. "It's just really tough to beat them that way."
The Chargers went into halftime with a 14-3 lead, but they knew what was coming. Kansas City's offense had turned the ball over three times. That wasn't going to happen again in the second half.
The Chiefs scored 14 answered points after Mahomes connected for touchdowns with Jordy Fortson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The next possession would probably decide how this game would finish.
Herbert drove the offense to the Kansas City 20-yard line and after a clutch fourth-down reception by Keenan Allen for nine yards. He found Mike Williams wide open in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown, answered back, and regained the lead.
"I beat him on the release, put my hand up, and Justin found me," said Williams.
There was more to this play. Herbert had Chris Jones breathing down his neck when he made this throw, but Williams noticed something. This was supposed to be a slant route, but Williams had beat Mike Hughes and threw his hand up.
"It was supposed to be a slant," said Herbert. "But Mike has such a great feel for leverage of the defender. He put his hand up. I saw it and got the ball quick enough, didn't actually get to see him catch the ball because I was on the ground. But just he makes plays out there."
Staley believed that drive was crucial for the outcome of the game.
"It's the Golden State Warriors over there," Staley said. "That's Klay Thompson, that's Steph Curry, that's Kevin Durant over there, right. They're going to make plays. At halftime, we were feeling good. But like, hey, this team isn't going down like that. They're going to make plays. They're going to make a run. When they make their run, we got to come together as a team and find our way. I felt like that's what we did a good job."
Kansas City would answer back with a Mecole Hardman eight-yard touchdown reception.
On the following drive, Herbert found Williams open for a 43-yard pass to get them onto the Chiefs side of the field on the first play. They get down to the one-yard line after a pass interference call. Herbert finds fullback Gabe Nabers for a one-yard touchdown, but it is nullified after an illegal shift.
The Chargers have had an illegal shift takeaway two touchdowns in the last two games. They had to settle for a Tristan Vizcaino 24-yard field goal.
It left Mahomes with over two minutes on the clock, and the game tied at 24. It felt like a loss was coming similar to the Cowboys one last Sunday with Greg Zuerlein hitting a 56-yard field goal.
Alohi Gilman intercepts Mahomes on third down and gives the Chargers a chance.
Herbert found Allen for a 15-yard gain on third down. A couple of plays later, the offense faced fourth-and-four and decided to send Vizcaino to try a 40-yard field goal with 20 miles per hour winds.
Staley calls a timeout and sends his quarterback out there.
"I thought it was great because we go into that huddle," Herbert explained. "Everyone believed, and you go out there, and you see all the faces of the guys, you see all the offensive linemen, the receivers, the running back, everyone believed everyone knew that we went out there and we had the right play. We had the right guys out there."
Rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater gets called for a false start. Staley doesn't blink.
"We want to put the ball in Justin Herbert's hands and have him be the decider," Staley said. "That's what I felt like was best in the game."
Herbert finds receiver Jalen Guyton, but he drops the pass—flags come flying in. Pass interference on DeAndre Baker was called.
"That means everything," Herbert said about his head coach trusting him. "We've worked so hard, ever since his offseason, and all of the time that we've spent together to be put in this position for these exact moments. We've got the right guys out there. I know that Coach Staley believes in us."
The Chargers quarterback finds Williams again on a 16-yard play to get the ball to the four-yard line. Then he checks out of a run to find Williams again for the four-yard touchdown. Williams finished with seven receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
"Mike Williams changes our offense," Herbert explained. "He's one of those guys that we knew going into this year. We needed to get him the ball more. Because when you spread the ball out, Keenan, Jared Cook, and Mike Williams, it doesn't get much tougher than that."
Herbert finished with four touchdowns and no interceptions. The offense didn't turn the ball over for the first time this season.
"I felt like Justin was the best player on the field, and I think Mike Williams was right there with him," Staley said. "I thought that those two guys really stood out to me."
The Chargers created turnovers, took some chances, and go back to L.A. with a big win over the division rival Chiefs. The decision-making by the head coach to trust the quarterback came up clutch in a game that almost got away from them.
"He certainly came through for us today," said Staley.