INGLEWOOD, Calif. — It was an embarrassing loss for the Los Angeles Chargers made spectacular only by an incredibly confusing decision.
With 4:54 minutes remaining in a 38-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert — 10 days after suffering a fractured rib cartilage — trotted onto the field at SoFi Stadium to play one last series.
“He wanted to be out there with his teammates,” said Chargers coach Brandon Staley. “He felt good and wanted to finish the game.”
Reporters asked Staley 20 questions during a seven-minute, 30-second post-game press conference. More than half of the questions concerned Herbert and the risk the franchise quarterback faced by staying in the game.
“I get your whole question, I get it,” Staley said. “Justin will feel that way playing out there. This injury will be there for a while. If you know the injury, it’s not like it’s going to feel any better next week or the week after. This thing will be around for a while. He felt good today and we will continue to manage it as best we can.
Staley said he “definitely” spoke to Herbert about staying in the game and confirmed that the quarterback was adamant he wanted to continue.
“I just didn’t want to leave the team,” said Herbert.
When asked if he had to protect the franchise quarterback, the #6 pick overall in the 2020 draft, around whom the organization has built a Super Bowl-caliber roster, from himself, Staley said, “Sure.”
“Throughout the game, that’s the first thought during the game and at the end of the game, so trust me, there’s nobody who thinks about it more than me,” Staley said.
For his part, Herbert reiterated that he didn’t want to quit when asked how he reconciled the decision to continue playing with staying on the sidelines to protect himself from further injury.
“It’s what the team needs,” said Herbert, who finished 25 of 45 for 297 yards and a touchdown, with an interception and a lost sack fumble. “Sometimes you have to put your own goals and everything in front of or behind the team and I think that’s the most important thing and I felt safe out there and didn’t want to leave my team.”
Herbert, 24, played without star receiver Keenan Allen, who is suffering from a hamstring injury, and behind a cobbled-together offensive line that allowed six quarterback hits and a sack.
Veteran center Corey Linsley missed the game with a knee problem and Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater left the game in the third quarter with a bicep injury.
The Chargers also dealt with several other significant injuries.
Pro Bowl edge rusher Joey Bosa also left the game in the first quarter after suffering a groin injury, and receiver Jalen Guyton was sidelined late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Cornerback JC Jackson, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract in free agency, missed his second game of the season as he continues to recover from ankle surgery last month.
The Chargers fall to 1-2 and hit the streets to play the Houston Texans (0-2) and Cleveland Browns (2-1).
Herbert said he knew he’d be playing “probably just before kick-off” on Sunday.
“I felt like I was going in and just wanted to see how it felt,” Herbert said. “It felt good before warming up, so I wanted to roll with it.”
When asked if he had received an injection for pain before the game, Herbert refused to answer.
“However I take care of my body, I think that’s one of the things I like to keep private,” Herbert said. “I trust the medical staff. I trust the training staff. You won’t put me in danger. I felt safe, they felt safe, so I went out and played.”
Herbert hadn’t missed a game since taking over as a starter in Week 2 of 2020 when then-starter Tyrod Taylor was ruled out just minutes before the game after he suffered an attempt from a team doctor, who is also now looking after Herbert Lung puncture had to administer a painkiller injection to help the quarterback’s fractured ribs.
That doctor is being sued by Taylor for medical malpractice, who is seeking at least $5 million, according to copies of the original lawsuit and later filings related to the case obtained by ESPN.
Against the Jaguars, the Chargers fell 13-0 in the second quarter after the Jaguars had 10 points from turnovers, including interceptions thrown and sack fumbles lost.
Herbert recovered and led a nine-play 75-yard drive that he completed with a 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Williams in the corner of the end zone.
Herbert also completed an impressive 54-yard pass to Guyton to open the second half, resulting in a 25-yard field goal to make it a one-possession play before the Jaguars finally pulled away.
“He threw the football well,” Staley said. “The protection – the rush was there today which forced him to speed up at times but he threw the ball out well today.”
Herbert said of his performance: “It was by no means a great day.”
But when asked how he felt physically? “I’m fine,” said Herbert, “thank you.”
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34667369/los-angeles-chargers-quarterback-justin-herbert-want-quit-team-38-10-home-loss Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert ‘didn’t want to quit on the team’ in 38-10 home loss