BALTIMORE (AP)Frazzled and frustrated by a Baltimore Ravens defense that chased him all over the field, Justin Herbert could only shrug his shoulders after an uncharacteristic poor performance during a stinging defeat.
Walking into the interview room wearing a nondescript sweatshirt and with a head full of wet hair, the second-year Los Angeles Chargers quarterback did his best to explain what went wrong in a 34-6 loss on Sunday. Staring straight ahead and showing little emotion, Herbert acknowledged that the offense did not execute well and the Ravens surprised him with a myriad of formations and unexpected blitzes.
”They did a great job of disguising their looks and bringing pressure,” he said.
In leading the Chargers on a three-game winning streak that took them to the top of the AFC West, Herbert threw 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. In this one, he went 22 for 39 for 195 yards with one TD and an interception.
He could take no consolation in being Los Angeles’s leading rusher, totaling 12 of the team’s 26 yards on the ground.
The Chargers (4-2) abandoned the running game early, and Herbert finished a poor second in a highly anticipated matchup with Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who threw for 167 yards and ran for 51 yards.
Following that magnificent three-week run in which he helped the Chargers score 105 points, Herbert could produce only one touchdown, on a 27-yard drive following a Baltimore turnover. Los Angeles finished with a paltry 208 yards in offense and held the ball for just under 22 minutes of this 60-minute mismatch.
Oh, and the Chargers were 3 for 12 on third-down tries in addition to failing on three of four fourth-down attempts.
”They do a lot of good things on defense,” Herbert said. ”We didn’t execute the way we wanted to, we didn’t move the ball, we didn’t convert on third downs. I had that one turnover. You can’t turn the ball over and expect to win.”
And you can’t give up 187 yards rushing, either.
”We were never able to get control of the game,” coach Brandon Staley said. ”When you factor in Lamar and what he brings to the game, that’s just a really prolific rushing attack.”
Staley, who was quick to compliment Herbert during the Chargers’ winning streak, refused to blame the quarterback for this ugly, lopsided loss.
”In a game like that where it gets away from you a little bit, you can tell a lot about your quarterback,” Staley said. ”I thought he was strong. There was a lot of pressure, and I thought he hung tough. We have to do a better job playing around him.”
The Chargers had a long flight across the country before heading into their bye week, one that can’t come soon enough for a team that’s already faced contenders Dallas, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Cleveland and Baltimore.
The way Staley saw it, LA deserves a break.
”That’s as tough of a stretch as you’re going to face. I felt like we made it through with our heads held high,” Staley said. ”Today did not go well. That happens in the NFL. But we’re going to get on that plane, learn from it and be back for the second half of the season.”
Linebacker Kyzir White had two interceptions, perhaps the only bright spot of the team’s inconsistent defensive effort. But the lopsided time of possession in Baltimore’s favor was hard for him to take.
”That’s another thing we’ve got to clean up,” White said. ”We’ll be better.”
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