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5 Takeaways: Bolts Praise Herbert's Toughness in Loss


The Chargers are 1-1 following a tough 27-24 road loss to the Chiefs.

Here are five takeaways from Week 2:

1. Justin Herbert is as tough as they come

Justin Herbert has a skillset unlike any quarterback in the league, but the 24-year-old undoubtedly showed one of his top traits Thursday night.


The Chargers quarterback left the game for one play around five minutes in the fourth quarter Thursday night after he was hit and went to the ground. He returned and finished the game.

After the game, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said the quarterback was doing "OK," and was dealing with something in his midsection, potentially to his ribs, but that more would be known Friday.

Staley waxed poetic about his quarterback's toughness.

"It was a tough game. You're not going to see a quarterback, in any level of football, play tougher and do more for their team and will their team to give them a chance than him," Staley said. "There's nobody that can do what he can do. Nobody. He showed a lot of guts. He showed us what he shows every day, that we're never out of the fight. He brought us back and gave us a chance."

Herbert returned and tried to lead a comeback despite being in obvious pain.

With the Bolts down 27-17, Herbert led the offense on a touchdown drive that included a 35-yard pass to DeAndre Carter up the left hashmark.

"That throw was as good as a throw, under the circumstances, that you are going to see in pro sports," Staley said.

Herbert capped off the drive with a. 7-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Palmer.

Chargers safety Derwin James, Jr., summed up Herbert's toughness, especially on his throw to Carter.

"[He's a] warrior, man, for being able to gut it out," James said. "He can't even walk, can barely stand up. To be able to hit a dot up the seam [to Carter] to give us a chance at going back out there. I feel like it was a great show by him."

Herbert completed 33 of 48 passes for 334 yards with three scores and an interception, which was returned 99 yards for a score.

2. Bolts defense unlucky on takeaways

On a different night, the Chargers might have had three or four interceptions against Patrick Mahomes in primetime.

But not on Thursday, as bit of bad luck left the defense with a goose egg in that stat coliumn.

Early in the second quarter, Mahomes was picked off by Nasir Adderley, but Bryce Callahan was called for illegal contact. Four plays later, the Chiefs scored a touchdown.

"The one on Bryce Callahan, an obvious offensive pass interference," Staley said. "At minimum. That's as tough as it gets. It was perfect coverage, it was perfectly defended so that's a tough one."

James then had a third-quarter pick of Mahomes, but offsetting penalties negated that takeaway, too.

"I mean I'm not out there officiating, my job is to play football and get out there with my brothers so I'm not trying to get into an [officiating] game," James said. "Like I said, we just got to be cleaner man, we gotta make good plays. I mean they were there, so we just gotta make them."

On the ensuing play, Asante Samuel, Jr., appeared to have an interception, but the call was overturned after a review.

"Yeah, I thought they were going to let it stand because the ruled it a catch," James said. "I mean, there was a little movement, but he had his hand on the ball so I thought it was a pick, but you know [the referees saw] it different."

Staley added: "Asante's was close. It's subjective, but he needs to finish that play. He's capable of it."

Six plays later, Mahomes threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to pull the Chiefs within three points.

"I feel like that was a big turning point, but I feel like there was a lot of plays in that game that I feel like changed the game," James said. "We just have to play better as a defense and make plays, make our plays on the ball within the rules so we just gotta do that."

While the Chiefs had a pick-6 for 99 yards, Samuel nearly had one himself but couldn't hold onto a pass with nothing but daylight in front of him.

Staley said the Chargers knew they couldn't afford any missed chances against Mahomes and that offense.

"I like the way our guys competed," Staley said. "When you get chances against that team, you've got to make sure you capitalize. We had some opportunities tonight but we didn't finish them."

3. Bolts shuffle O-line due to injuries

The Chargers used three different offensive line combinations against the Chiefs as that unit was hit by injuries.

The usual starting five of Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson and Trey Pipkins III opened the game.

But Linsley left the game with a knee injury late in the first half and was replaced by Will Clapp.

Early in the second half, Pipkins left the game with an ankle injury and replaced by Storm Norton.

"Will picked it up. Will came in and picked it up right where we were," Ekeler said. "You never want to lose any of your guys, but if you do you know you're expecting the next guy to know where he is.

"We have a lot of confidence in Will, Will's been doing it for a while and has showed us that he can play at a high caliber level. Too," Ekeller added. "It obviously hurts when you lose anybody from your starting lineup. Hopefully Corey alright which he said he is, but Will did a good job stepping up and running the show out there, communicated well, didn't have any mishaps and kept it moving."

Staley complimented his offensive line after all the shuffling.

"Will Clapp is an outstanding backup center," Staley said. "We also had Trey go out, but that's why you create depth. That's what we're after.

"We had a lot of guys rise to the occasion that were backup players who gave us a chance," Staley added.

4. Staley explains 4th-down calls

The Chargers went a perfect 4-for-4 on fourth downs Thursday night, but they could have easily attempted a few more tries.

On their opening possession, the Chargers faced fourth-and-2 from the Chiefs 13-yard line and decided to kick a 31-yard field goal.

Later in the game, a handful of fourth-down calls popped up near midfield.

On fourth-and-1 from the Chiefs 49, the Chargers went for it, with Herbert converting on the ground.

But on fourth-and-2 at the Chiefs 47, and later fourth-and-2 at the Chiefs 48, Staley decided to punt and try and pin the Chiefs deep in their own territory.

The plan worked, as the Chargers defense forced Kansas City to punt in both instances.

After the game, Staley explained his reasoning to punt the ball away in those situations.

"Just wanted to give our defense a chance to compete, I really loved the way we were playing," Staley said. "I felt like that was the formula, to slip the field there. I felt like we were aggressive when we needed to be tonight, converted all four of our fourth downs.

"But felt like with who's over there and the way our defense was playing, field position would be a big edge for us to pin them back there," Staley added.

5. Mike Williams shines again at Arrowhead

With Keenan Allen out with a hamstring injury, Mike Williams balled out in primetime.

Perhaps that shouldn't have been a surprise considering Williams continued to thrive at Arrowhead Stadium.

The wide receiver had eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, which he hauled in with just one hand.

Williams' score gave him seven career touchdowns at Arrowhead, which set a record by the most of any visiting player. He broke a tie with LaDanian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Marvin Harrison and Eric Decker.

"Mike Williams, the reason why we brought him back is because he's an elite competitor, big-time player, primetime player," Staley said of Williams, who signed a multi-year extension this past offseason. "With Keenan being out, we knew the coverage would be tilted to his side and a lot of rolled up coverage to him.

"He still produced and that's the type of player he is," Staley added. "We gave him a bunch of opportunities today, tried to be aggressive and get him the football and get him off to a good start. I really like the way we featured him tonight and thought he had a whale of a game."

Williams touchdown was a thing of beauty from 15 yards out and he corralled a pass from Herbert with only his right hand.

"Just try to make a play. That was the whole mindset this whole game, was no matter how it's coming to me if the ball's coming to me make the catch," Williams said. "Just try to make plays for the offense, get the offense going."

Williams said he embraced the chance to step up in Allen's absence.

"I love it," Williams said. "I mean, as a playmaker, as a receiver. obviously when you get a lot of opportunities you look forward to it so I was looking forward to it tonight."

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