COSTA MESA — Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert acknowledged the obvious on Wednesday, two days after the New York Jets limited him to a career-low of 136 yards on 16-for-30 passing with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in what appeared to be a dominating 27-6 victory for his team.
“Games like that can be frustrating,” he said.
The Chargers (4-4) barely moved the ball down the field against New York’s impressive defense, generating a season-low total of 191 net yards. Their touchdown scoring drives were short and sweet, one covering 50 yards and another of 2 yards, each capped by short runs by Austin Ekeler.
Two drives that resulted in field goals by Cameron Dicker were impressive but for different reasons. The first covered just 21 yards, but it was during a two-minute drill and set up Dicker for a 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. The second covered 68 yards in 16 plays, setting up Dicker’s 38-yard field goal.
“That’s a pretty good defense,” Herbert said of the Jets, who sacked him five times and pressured him from beginning to end. “We would have loved to have moved the ball better, to score a bunch of points. It didn’t go our way. But for us, it was important to stay together, stick together.”
In hindsight, Herbert might not have been content to jog to the sideline as the Chargers’ punt team took the field eight times, but he was pleased their offense didn’t turn over the ball on an interception or a fumble. Herbert didn’t throw an interception for the second consecutive game.
The only turnover the Chargers have had in the past two games was Ekeler’s fumble during their 30-13 victory over the Chicago Bears on Oct. 29, which set up a rather meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown. The Chargers didn’t force a turnover against the Bears but they recovered three Jets fumbles.
Overall, the Chargers have won the turnover battle 15-6 this season.
“As long as we’re not turning the ball over and we’re doing the best to score in the red zone and to create explosives (plays for big gains), that’s all you can ask for,” Herbert said of playing safe and sane against a defense that handed the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles their only loss of the season.
Patience is another key to playing against a formidable opponent. Not every game will result in 300 yards passing (or more) and three touchdowns (or more) with no turnovers. The object of the game is to find a way to win when matters are difficult and the opposition’s strengths are just a little bit stronger.
“It’s great that we have such a great supporting cast around us, coaching us,” Herbert said of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and backup quarterbacks Easton Stick and Max Duggan. “They’ve done a great job on the sideline, just talking with us about exactly what we’re seeing, talking about the upcoming drive. To have those guys on the sideline, being able to communicate with them, I think that’s really helpful.”
Coach Brandon Staley referred to the Chargers’ offense as “a work in progress, just like we are on defense and on special teams.” He also said of the offense, “I think that this group is still figuring it out together, but I like the group that we are coaching, and I like the way this group’s competing.”
Derius Davis, a rookie wide receiver, was named the AFC’s special teams player of the week after returning a punt 87 yards for a touchdown against the Jets. It was the longest punt return for a touchdown in the NFL this season, the fifth-longest in Chargers history and the first by any NFL rookie since 2017.
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