Staley sticks with ailing Herbert in Chargers’ blowout loss

Sep 25, 2022, 12:01 AM | Updated: 6:26 pm

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot (91) during the first half of an NFL football game in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. The Jaguars recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Even after the Los Angeles Chargers fell behind by 28 points late in the fourth quarter on a dismal Sunday afternoon, Justin Herbert insisted on staying in the game with his fractured rib cartilage.

Brandon Staley acceded to his franchise quarterback’s wishes, and the head coach says he understood the risks he was taking — both with Herbert’s health and with the Chargers’ entire remaining season beyond this embarrassing 38-10 defeat.

“He wanted to be out there with his teammates,” Staley said. “He felt good, and he wanted to finish the game. He wanted to give our group some energy, and we were going to protect him there at the end, really sound protection, the best we could. But it was more about him wanting to finish with his guys.”

Staley’s refusal to make the conventional, prudent decision confounded many NFL observers watching the injury-filled Chargers’ performance around the country. Plenty of Bolts fans at SoFi Stadium also couldn’t believe Herbert was still throwing passes and potentially taking hits with his team irretrievably behind in only the third game of the season.

“I just didn’t want to quit on the team,” Herbert said. “(It was) obviously a tough day for us, but I didn’t want to go out, and it felt like we were getting the ball out quick. … It’s what the team needs, and sometimes you have to put your own goals and everything behind the (needs of the) team. I think that’s what’s most important. I felt like I was safe out there.”

Herbert wasn’t even sure he was going to play at all until he tested his ribs in pregame warmups. He apparently didn’t injure himself more extensively, even while the Jaguars got one sack and six quarterback hits as he played into the final minute of a blowout.

Herbert insisted the risk was worth it.

“It’s part of the game, dealing with injuries and dealing with pain,” Herbert said. “A lot of guys in that locker room don’t feel great, and it’s all about how you react and how you respond, and I’m going to do everything I can to go to treatment, take care of my body, and hopefully the thing will go away.”

Herbert said he had no physical limitations on the field, yet his accuracy and arm strength didn’t appear to be at their usual brilliance while he went 25 of 45 for 297 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Chargers trailed 13-0 before Herbert’s only touchdown pass late in the first half, and they managed just one more scoring drive.

Herbert’s ribs got hurt on a hard hit by Kansas City’s Michael Danna 10 days ago. He stretched his streak of regular-season starts to 35, but he practiced sparingly during the week and then went 3 of 7 for 27 yards with two turnovers on the Bolts’ first four drives.

“Justin is going to be feeling like this when he’s out there playing,” Staley said. “This injury is going to be there for a while. If you guys know the injury, it’s not like it’s going to feel better next week or the week after that.”

The Chargers had all three of their quarterbacks active for the first time since Week 2 against Kansas City in 2020, with backup Chase Daniel and third-stringer Easton Stick also available. Neither got the call.

Herbert refused to say whether he had a pain-killing injection in his ribs before the game, but he praised the Chargers’ medical staff. He surpassed 900 completions and 10,000 yards passing in the loss, becoming the fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach the completion milestone.

The injury is Herbert’s first significant health setback since being the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft — but it’s not just Herbert’s ribs that should concern the Chargers (1-2), a popular preseason playoff pick in danger of falling into an early season hole.

Injury problems are hitting the top of the roster for the Bolts, who were without several vital players in their second consecutive defeat. Herbert and the Chargers faced Jacksonville without Keenan Allen, their top receiver; Corey Linsley, their starting center; and JC Jackson, their top cover cornerback.

When the game started, it got even worse.

Los Angeles lost Joey Bosa to a groin injury in the first half, and the star pass rusher watched the second half in street clothes. Left tackle Rashawn Slater then injured his biceps early in the second half, and receiver Jalen Guyton hurt his knee while attempting to make a long reception with 1:54 to play.

“(Herbert) threw the ball well out there today, and throughout warmups and the game,” Staley said. “We didn’t do a good enough job as a football team today in all phases.”


More AP NFL: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris, left, Tyrese Maxey, center, and James Harden, right, look on fro...
Associated Press

Sixers’ Harden to return Monday against Rockets after injury

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden will return Monday night for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Houston Rockets after missing 14 games with a foot injury. Harden, who spent just more than eight seasons with the Rockets before being traded to Brooklyn in January 2021, last played Nov. 2. He had a tendon strain in his […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Blake scores 20, Green Bay beats IUPUI 68-61

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Zae Blake scored 20 points to help Green Bay defeat IUPUI 68-61 on Monday. Blake added three steals for the Phoenix (1-7). Clarence Cummings III scored 16 points, going 6 of 13 from the floor, including 2 for 5 from distance, and 2 for 5 from the line. Garren Davis […]
16 hours ago
Ydamelys Moreno, right, watches as fellow female boxers train in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022...
Associated Press

Boxing powerhouse Cuba lets women boxers compete

HAVANA (AP) — Legnis Cala Massó carefully removes her necklace and smiles as her coach slides her bright red boxing gloves over her French tip nails. The 31-year-old swings her wiry body into the ring and pounds her fellow boxer – also a young woman – with a series of punches, just as she’s done […]
16 hours ago
Baltimore Ravens players celebrate a touchdown by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) in...
Associated Press

Jackson’s injury a concern, but Ravens’ defense playing well

BALTIMORE (AP) — Thanks to Lamar Jackson’s injury and a surging Cincinnati team, the Baltimore Ravens suddenly have their work cut out for them if they want to win the AFC North. They did, however, take another step in that direction last weekend. The Ravens rallied late to edge the Broncos 10-9, and although Denver’s […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Germany's manager Oliver Bierhoff, left, talks to coaches besides head coach Hans Flick, rig...
Associated Press

Bierhoff resigns as director of Germany’s teams, academy

BERLIN (AP) — Oliver Bierhoff is the first managerial casualty of Germany’s early World Cup exit after agreeing to resign as managing director of the country’s national soccer teams and academy. The German soccer federation said on Monday that Bierhoff agreed to prematurely end his contract. It was due to run through the 2024 European […]
16 hours ago
South Korea's Son Heung-min, left, greets Brazil's Neymar before the start of the World Cup round o...
Associated Press

Son exits World Cup without showing his best for South Korea

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — As Brazil’s big-time player made his return to the World Cup in Qatar, the superstar of South Korean soccer made his exit. Son Heung-min is his country’s Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and, yes, Neymar, all wrapped up into one. Yet, as Neymar recovered from an ankle injury to score in Brazil’s […]
16 hours ago
Staley sticks with ailing Herbert in Chargers’ blowout loss