The Chargers sit at 2-2 following a 24-17 win over Las Vegas.
Here are five takeaways from a Week 4 victory:
1. Late hit on Herbert ignites Chargers
It seemed as if the entire Chargers roster showed up.
Offense, defense, special teams … everyone was there.
The lesson? Don't mess with the Chargers franchise quarterback.
"It brings everyone [together]," said right tackle Trey Pipkins III. "Obviously, we protect No. 10 at all costs and seeing everybody with him, that reaction immediately, everybody on the team is on the same page and it kind of brings everybody together."
Defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day added: "That speaks on our brotherhood here and how tight-knit of a group we are."
Guard Zion Johnson noted: "I was angry. All of us kind of ran out there because that's our guy, that's our leader. We see how tough he is. He gives it all for us and we're going to do our best to protect him. Cheap shots like that, we're not going to allow it."
You've probably seen the replay by now.
On second-and-6 at the Raiders 32-yard line a few minutes into the second quarter, Herbert took the snap and juked out Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby. As he escaped the pocket, Herbert ran toward the Bolts sideline and picked up three yards before cruising out of bounds.
But Jerry Tillery, the Chargers 2019 first-round pick, came chugging over and waylaid Herbert up high despite the fact that quarterback was already at the sideline.
Tillery was flagged for a personal foul and promptly ejected from the game.
And a sea of powder blue crashed toward the scene as Bolts players and coaches stood up for their leader.
We can't print the first part of part of what Keenan Allen said about the play. But he added:
"Bonehead play even though [Herbert] took it like a champ. My boy got heart."
Pipkins said: "Inexcusable. It's just a ridiculous play. Should never happen like that. I don't want to get into it too much, but I think it was the right reaction by everybody involved."
Joseph-Day added: "That was whack. But that's our guy, man. There's no point for that, this game is already such a violent game. We put our bodies on the line each and every day to go out there and perform … why do something that stupid?"
Herbert, for his part, downplayed the hit after the game.
"Football is an emotional game," Herbert said. "Whether it was late or whether it was before the play, we have a lot of respect for that team. I have a lot of respect for Jerry as a former teammate.
"It was an unfortunate hit, but I thought it was cool the way our team reacted," Herbert added. "It is what it is. It's football, so it's no hard feelings."
But on a day where the Chargers clawed their way to another one-score win in the AFC West and moved to .500, the way the Bolts reacted said it all.
"I love all that. I'm here for all of that. I love when my team looks like that," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley. "That's their quarterback. That's a sign of a good team. That was an igniter for us.
"Justin looks at you know us and just gives us a wink because that hit doesn't hurt Justin Herbert," Staley continued. "It helped fuel our guys. Our guys were up for the challenge. They were going to go defend their guy.
"That's what competition is about, competition is about that," Staley added. "You have to make sure that cooler heads prevail, but in a moment like that, yeah, you want it turned up."
2. A final defensive stand
Another week, another game-saving interception near the goal line.
This time it was Asante Samuel, Jr.'s turn to play hero as the Bolts cornerback picked off Raiders rookie Aidan O'Connell with just over two minutes to play.
The takeaway prevented Las Vegas from possibly tying the game (or taking the lead).
"We were in man coverage and they kind of a did a pick-flat," Samuel said. "It was just preparation. We have been going over that play so I just read my keys and made the play."
That's now two weeks in a row that the Bolts defense has come up clutch late. Kenneth Murray, Jr. had an interception in the final seconds of Week 3 in Minnesota.
"It gives us confidence just finishing out games," Samuel said. "Every game we've lost has been close so we've been focusing on finishing the game."
Staley added: "Our team is comfortable in those situations."
Overall, the Bolts allowed a season-low 264 yards of offense to the Raiders in a game highlighted by a 6.0-sack day from Khalil Mack.
They did it while missing numerous starters, whether it be Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Jr. or Slohi Gilman, plus others such as JT Woods and Deane Leonard.
"We talk about the NFL and the way it is. Through four weeks, I think 70 percent of the games are [decided by] less than a touchdown. That's the NFL," Staley said. "You have to be good when you have to have it.
"You have to be comfortable in those spaces. Our guys have thrived in that the last couple of weeks," Staley added. "I think that, especially defensively, the way we've played, you can see that that's a connected unit. We've made a lot of plays to win us the game."
3. Herbert ices the game
Herbert said "was never really a question" that he was going to keep playing after suffering a finger injury in the third quarter.
And after the game, he said a finger got stuck in a helmet in the midst of a wild play.
"It's not bad, it was good enough to go back out there," Herbert said. "It's just one of those things that you have to monitor over the next couple of days, see how it goes. We'll wait for more details."
Staley said postgame that he didn't have a prognosis on Herbert's finger, which is on his non-throwing hand.
Herbert was in the blue medical tent on the sideline for a bit but didn't miss a single offensive snap.
And his final throw of the game might have been his best one yet.
The Bolts had third-and-10 at the Raiders 11 and needed a first down to ice the game.
Herbert gave the Chargers that (and more) by delivering a dime to Joshua Palmer for 51 yards.
"Great play by Josh Palmer to go up and get that ball," Herbert said.
Eric Kendricks was on the Chargers sideline as Palmer came toward him.
"I had the perfect view. It was an absolute dot ball," Kendricks said. "Right at his fingertips. Great catch. That's what football is about. I'm happy I had a front-row ticket."
Herbert didn't put up the gaudy 400-yard stat line he did in Week 3, throwing for 167 yards with a score and his first interception of the year.
But he dug deep when his team needed him the most.
"You guys saw Justin's toughness today – not that we needed to show anybody how tough he is," Staley said. "He's a clutch player. He has always played his best in the clutch. No matter what type of game it is, at the end of the game, he's always going to be there and that throw is a great example of it.
"Just kind of hung tough the whole game," Staley added. "But, then, when you throw a dime like that to finish it, it's just one of those signature plays that help you win a game like this."
4. Getting to .500
The Bolts have landed at .500 before the bye.
That's something to celebrate given the fact the Chargers started 0-2 with a pair of razor-close losses.
"It's huge, and that was the whole goal for the week," Pipkins said. "Everybody knew it was big to go into the bye at .500. Essentially starting 0-0 and go from there, it's big for sure."
Samuel added: "It's not where we wanted to be, but we trending in the right direction, trying to get better each and every week. It's a long season still, so we still got to go hard every day.
The Bolts have now won two closes games (by four and seven points, respectively) after losing their first two games by five combined points.
Staley offered an assessment postgame of where his team is entering the Week 5 bye.
"We could be 4-0. We lost the first one in a thriller to a really good team, and then we lost, in overtime, to another good team — you guys saw today what they did," Staley said of the Titans, who earned a 27-3 win over the Bengals.
"We could easily be 4-0. Some people could say that we could be 1-3. Right now, we're 2-2," Staley added. "That's what we are, we are a 2-2 football team and we're a team that is improving. We've improved in every game this season, from Game 1 to Game 2, from Game 2 to Game 3, from Game 3 to Game 4. We've gotten better. That's where my focus is, as the head coach."
Herbert added: "It is what it is. We have to take it for what it is and continue to build and develop and go forward from here. We have a bye week heading up, so a lot of us will get our bodies back and get ready to go. A really good opponent coming here in two weeks."
Get an inside look at the postgame celebration from the Chargers 24-17 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
5. Another 4th-and-1 call
The Bolts once again had a chance to ice the game late in the fourth quarter.
And once again, a fourth-and-1 scenario popped up.
Leading 24-17 with 3:34 to play, the Bolts had the ball at their own 34. Staley kept his offense on the field and tried a quarterback sneak but Herbert was stopped short.
Staley explained the decision to go for it.
"It was less than a yard — in that range, where we felt like we had the right play," Staley said. "They had a timeout and the 2-minute [warning], but it would really put us in good position to finish the game and put them in a really tough situation.
"We felt like our defense was playing at a high level. We didn't get the job done, but I'm really proud of our defense — the way that they played the whole game, but certainly in that circumstance, two weeks in a row. We were outstanding and those guys deserve a lot of credit," Staley added.
The play was similar, but not the exact same, to a week ago when the Bolts also went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 24 with less than two minutes to go against the Vikings.
That one didn't work out either, but the Chargers held on to win both games.
"Every decision has a life of its own, and I've said that for three years now," Staley added. "We're going to do what we feel like gives us the best chance to win."
Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 4 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium.
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