Chargers go on the road to Green Bay after a heartbreaking loss to the Lions
November 16, 2023
Quarterback Justin Herbert sat alone in front of his locker after the game, having thrown for 323 yards and four touchdowns and leading the Los Angeles Chargers to a season-high 38 points. He sat there with a despondent look on his face, like he had given everything he had, but his team had still come up short, losing 41-38 to the Detroit Lions.
Herbert made some outstanding throws under pressure in the game. But it was not enough to beat the Lions. The win improved the Lions to 7-2 for the season and dropped the Chargers to a record of 4-5. For Herbert and the Chargers, it was another frustrating, close loss to a good team at home.
The Lions won the game on a 41-yard field goal by Lions kicker Riley Patterson as time expired. They converted a fourth-and-two from the Chargers 24-yard line with 1:47 remaining in the game that enabled them to run the clock down to three seconds and kick the game winning score, keeping the ball away from Herbert and the Chargers offense. The Chargers had scored touchdowns on five consecutive offensive drives, which turned out to be their last five offensive drives of the game.
The Sunday afternoon tilt between the Lions and Chargers was played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game was very entertaining, especially if you like good offensive football. But that was not satisfying to Herbert, who was asked if the entertaining game was fun to play in. "Losing is never fun," said Herbert. "But I thought we battled today."
Herbert was not the only quarterback on the field who had a very good day. Lions quarterback Jared Goff completed 23 of 33 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Goff, who was the first pick overall in the 2016 NFL draft of the Los Angeles Rams, has found a home in Detroit. The former Cal Bears star has become a top ten quarterback in Detroit. He enjoyed being back in Los Angeles and unlike Herbert, Goff enjoyed the shootout between the Lions and Chargers.
"For me, it's fun," Goff said. "I don't know if we want to win the game like that every week. We felt like we could do some good things against them in the pass game. Justin, obviously on the other side, was doing his thing, as well. You kind of get that feeling, like maybe it's going to be the team with the ball in their hands last type of game. Certainly, it was today. We know how potent their offense is, as well. We knew we would need some points."
The Lions had 533 yards in total offense, with no turnovers and no sacks. The Lions are ranked No. 2 in the NFL in total offense yardage per game, behind only the Miami Dolphins. Both the Dolphins and the Lions had over 500 yards in offense against the Chargers and no sacks, and both came out with close wins at SoFi Stadium. The Chargers pass defense is the worst in the NFL, ranked last in yardage per game allowed.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley took the blame for the loss. "I didn't do a good enough job on defense for us today," Staley said. "That was the story, run and pass. Didn't do a good job in the run game in the first half. Then, in the second half, there were far too many [explosive plays]. I didn't do a good enough job for us today. It starts with me."
Good offensive teams have been able to exploit the weaknesses in the Chargers defense. Lions receiver Kalif Raymond got open on a crossing route late in the 4th quarter and gained 41 yards on the catch-and-run. That helped set up the winning field goal. Raymond was being chased by linebacker Eric Kendricks, who apparently had responsibility for him. Raymond has been timed at 4.34 in the forty. A good matchup against a linebacker. The Lions consistently found the matchups they liked against the Chargers.
Staley still believes in his team. "We've played the very best teams in the NFL, and we've been in every single football game," Staley said. "We're four-and-five. We're still a work-in-progress, but we have the right men in that group - offense, defense, and special teams. We're good enough on offense, defense, and special teams to beat anybody we play."
It is time to prove it. Staley is right, the Chargers lost by two points to the Dolphins and by three points to the Lions. They were a defensive play away from possibly winning those games and being at 6-3 instead 4-5. The Chargers will probably need to get to a 10-7 record to make the playoffs, which means they need to go 6-2 for the rest of the season. They will need to beat good teams to get to the playoffs.
While it was a bad day for the defense, it was a productive day offensively for the Chargers wide receivers. Keenan Allen had 11 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns, despite a shoulder injury. Allen had a key 38-yard touchdown catch on a 4th-and-one. Rookie Quentin Johnston caught his first touchdown pass, a one-yard reception on a fourth down from the one-yard line. Jalen Guyton caught his first touchdown pass since the 2021 season, an 18-yard laser from Herbert between two Lion defenders.
The Chargers will travel to Wisconsin this weekend to take on the Green Bay Packers. The game will be played on Sunday, November 19 and will start at 10:00 AM PST. The game will be televised on FOX. The Packers are 3-6 on the season and have lost five of their last six games. They are struggling to develop any consistency on offense, with quarterback Jordan Love tied for second in the NFL with ten interceptions and completing just 58.7% of his passes, the lowest of any starting quarterback in the NFL.
The Chargers lead the league in the least amount of giveaways with just seven. They have a +8-turnover ratio. Green Bay has a -4-turnover ratio for the season. Avoiding turnovers on the road will be important for the Chargers against the Packers.