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Chargers Secure Second Win With Bounce Back Game, Outlast Texans 34-24

The Chargers get back in the win column with a 34-24 victory over the Texans.

After the Chargers entered halftime with a 20-point lead, things got a little dicey in the final quarter when the Texans roared back to score 17 unanswered points.

Leading by one score as things approached the six-minute mark, the Chargers capped off a 12-play, 84-yard drive ending in a Justin Herbert 14-yard touchdown pass to Austin Ekeler to extend their lead by two possessions late in the fourth quarter.

With two minutes left, Bryce Callahan picked off Davis Mills' pass intended to OJ Howard to put the game out of reach as the Chargers held off the Texans by the final score of 34-24.

"Today was more of a gritty, tough win for our football team," coach Brandon Staley said after the Chargers' second win of the season. "But a really good response to a really tough loss last week. We had some pieces that were different this week, we had to make some adjustments."

The Chargers lost standout left tackle Rashawn Slater to a biceps injury last week that required surgery. In his place, the team turned to sixth-round pick Jamaree Salyer to shoulder the load. Salyer, in his first career start in the NFL, looked like a natural, holding up strong for all four quarters without allowing a sack.

"We've dealt with a lot of adversity and I thought we've handled that pretty well," Justin Herbert said. "It's it's a long season and to lose a couple guys here and there, to be able to replace them and have some guys that maybe weren't expecting to play a ton, make some huge plays in big time games, that's great to see."

Salyer played left guard at the University of Georgia his final two years in college, but upon entering the NFL, he's played almost exclusively at guard. In returning to his college position, Salyer looked well beyond his years, holding down the fort as Herbert's blindside protector.

"He's a stud, calm, poise, strong, and his teammates did a great job for him too," Staley said of Salyer's performance." I'm really proud of him. He can build off it because he's really hard on himself."

The offensive line not only kept Herbert upright in pass protection, but their run blocking efforts propelled the rushing attack to find its groove in what’s considered to be their best showing of rushing the football this season.

"I loved our commitment to it," Staley said on the rushing attack. "I thought it allowed our O-line to get into rhythm, which helped our passing game. We didn't get any big splitters today, but I thought we had a lot of productive runs, stayed out of negative runs."

The Chargers were led on offense by the right arm of Herbert and the ground attack of Ekeler, resulting in a season-high 34 points scored.

"They did a great job blocking all day," Herbert said of the offensive line. "Protecting, giving me enough time to get the ball off and guys on the outside making plays."

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Herbert completed 27-of-39 attempts, a season-high 340 passing yards and two touchdowns. Ekeler, who entered Sunday's game without a touchdown through the first three weeks, capped off the hat trick, scoring three times in Week 4.

Sunday marked the second full game Herbert played through a fractured rib cartilage. He said after the game his injury is improving, and sound protection like the performance the offensive line delivered on Sunday, should only benefit Herbert's health status moving forward.

After losing by 28 points in last week’s blowout loss to the Jaguars, the Chargers responded with encouraging signs from both sides of the ball.

Defensively, they recorded four sacks, with each one coming from a different defender as the secondary tacked on two interceptions. Khalil Mack is now up to five sacks this season, leading the Chargers' defense.

"Unfortunately we fell last week to the Jaguars, but we bounce back," Herbert said. "We reacted well during practice. We had a great week of preparation."


  • Herbert tied an NFL record for 300-yard games through the first three seasons of a career. Sunday in Houston was the 19th time Herbert has reached the 300-yard passing mark.
  • Ekeler, at the age of 27, has become the youngest running back in the common draft era to record 25 touchdown catches.

Injury roundup:

  • Wide receiver Joshua Palmer (foot) and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day (finger) both suffered minor injuries. Staley said after the game that both players will be ok.

Looking ahead:

  • Now sitting at a record of 2-2, the Chargers will head to Cleveland in Week 5 to take on the Browns. 

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.