Justin Herbert Gets First NFL Career Win
Chargers Beat Jaquars at SoFi Stadium
October 29, 2020
When the Chargers came to Los Angeles from San Diego in 2016, they adopted the marketing slogan, "Fight for LA." In 2020, that marketing slogan should be changed to, "Come see Justin." In an area full of professional sports activities, Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is fast becoming one of the most entertaining acts in professional sports in Southern California and he may be just what the Chargers need to win over Los Angeles.
Last Sunday at SoFi Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Herbert continued his streak of terrific performances. Herbert completed 27 of 43 passes for 347 yards and threw for three touchdowns, adding a five-yard rushing touchdown to his day's work, as the Chargers knocked off the Jaguars, 39-29. The victory was the first in Herbert's NFL career as a starter and it was the team's first win at SoFi Stadium.
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Chargers, who are now 2-4, and extended the Jaguars losing streak to six, as they are now 1-6 for the season. For the fourth time in five games, the Chargers took a double-digit lead in a game and then proceeded to give the lead back to their opponent. The Chargers took an early 16-0 lead in the second quarter, with rookie Joe Reed scoring on a seven run, tight end Donald Parham scoring on a 22-yard touchdown reception and kicker Michael Badgley converting on a 35-yard field goal attempt. Badgley missed an extra point after Reed's touchdown, the second straight game that has happened to him. Badgley also missed a 48-yard field goal attempt early in the third quarter. The Jaguars stormed back from the 16-point deficit with two second quarter touchdowns. The comeback was led by running back James Robinson, who had a four-yard touchdown run and caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gardner Minshew. The Chargers led at halftime, 16-14.
The Jaguars took the lead early in the third quarter when Jacksonville's Daniel Thomas blocked a Ty Long punt and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown. The two teams traded scores, with Herbert throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Virgil Green and Minshew connecting for a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Conley.
Still trailing 29-22 in the third quarter, Herbert floated a beautiful deep pass to wide receiver Jalen Guyton, who had beaten the cornerback and easily trotted in to the endzone to tie the score at 29-29. On the ensuing kickoff to the Jaguars, the Chargers forced a fumble and recovered it at the Jaguars 19 yard-line. Herbert ran it in from five yards out to give the Chargers the lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
For the season, Herbert has thrown for 1,542 passing yards and 12 touchdowns, with three interceptions in five games. This makes him the first player since at least 1970 to record 1,500 yards and a passer rating over 100 through his five career games. Herbert is ranked 4th in the NFL in passing yardage per game, averaging 308 yards per game. His passer rating is 108.1, which ranks 7th in the NFL.
Herbert became the first Chargers quarterback since Mark Malone in 1988 to have a 30-yard run, when he ran 31 yards on a read-option during the first quarter to help set up Badgley's first field goal. Herbert also set a Charger franchise single-game quarterback record with 66 rushing yards. Herbert is the second rookie quarterback to ever throw at least three touchdowns passes in three consecutive games.
Herbert was pleased to get his first NFL victory. "I think we put together a full game," said Herbert. "It's an awesome feeling especially considering how the past couple games have gone. It got dicey when they blocked that punt in the third quarter, but we never got down on ourselves."
Of course, it helps to have talented receivers to throw to and It helps to have star wide receiver Keenan Allen, who caught 10 passes for 125 yards. Allen is one of the top route runners in the NFL and just always seems to be open. Of his ten receptions, eight went for first downs. Allen's release off the line of scrimmage, his footwork, knowledge of defenses and body control puts him in an elite category of wide receivers.
Guyton has established a connection with Herbert over the past five games. Guyton has three touchdown reception in five games and is leading the NFL in yards per reception at 32.3 yards per catch. Parham has caught two touchdown passes from Herbert in five games. Both Guyton and Parham had never caught a pass in the NFL before this season.
The win for Herbert was a measure of revenge over Minshew, who had beaten Herbert in college in 2018 when he was with Washington State and Herbert was quarterbacking for the Oregon Ducks. Herbert was asked after the game about his improvement from college to the NFL and what has changed for him since college.
Herbert simply said, "I don't think I've changed my game in any way. I think I've just grown and developed, and I've got a better understanding of the game. Some of the weapons here, I think they're the best in the world." While he does have some good weapons, he clearly looks different than he did at Oregon.
After five games, Herbert looks like one of the best deep throwers in the NFL. Charger head coach Anthony Lynn added regarding Herbert , "He was a major contributor. He delivered the ball and created with his feet. He extended drives and showed versatility. We needed that win in a bad way as a team. I'm glad we got it done, but man, we have a lot of work to do."
That is an understatement. The Chargers need to keep winning to get back into the playoff race. The Chargers travel to Denver this Sunday for an important matchup with the division-rival Denver Broncos. The Broncos are tied with the Chargers at 2-4 and have been struggling offensively. The Chargers defensive front put pressure on Minshew all afternoon and were able to gather five sacks. They should matchup well with the struggling Bronco offense.
The Broncos are 31st in turnover ratio at a -8 and 31st in turnovers with 14. The Broncos are ranked 28th in the NFL in total offensive yardage. Their defense is still solid and playing in Denver is never easy. The Chargers have only had one turnover in the past three games, and they need to continue that trend to avoid helping the struggling Broncos offense.
The kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 PM local time on the CBS network. The Chargers hope to have right guard Trai Turner and right tackle Bryan Bulaga back in the lineup for this game. Turner has missed the past four games with a groin injury, and Bulaga has missed the past three games with a back injury. If the Chargers are going to get back into the playoff picture, they really need their two best offensive linemen back in the lineup.