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With Justin Herbert ailing, Chargers are no match for Jaguars in blowout loss

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Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer is taken downby Jacksonville Jaguars defenders.
Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer is taken down by Jacksonville Jaguars defenders during the Chargers’ 38-10 loss Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Justin Herbert, battling a rib injury, didn’t perform up to his usual standards and the Chargers defense couldn’t contain Trevor Lawrence in a loss to the Jaguars.

Jaguars take out Chargers, Brandon Staley takes heat for not resting Justin Herbert

Beforehand, the questions were about whether Justin Herbert would start the game.

Afterward, the questions were about why Justin Herbert finished it.

That’s how comprehensive of a collapse the Chargers had Sunday in losing 38-10 to Jacksonville at SoFi Stadium.

From opening kickoff to final gun, their performance was sorely lacking as Herbert struggled to play through fractured rib cartilage and the defense wilted under the weight of a 17-minute time-of-possession deficit.

Then, afterward, matters didn’t improve much as Brandon Staley attempted to explain why Herbert remained in the game even as the Chargers fell four touchdowns behind in the final five minutes.

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With Justin Herbert struggling, Chargers lose in blowout to Jaguars

🏈 FINAL — Jaguars 38, Chargers 10

The Chargers lost to Jacksonville 38-10 Sunday on an afternoon when quarterback Justin Herbert struggled playing through a rib injury.

Herbert finished 25 of 44 for 297 yards, with one interception and one lost fumble. His accuracy and timing were both clearly impacted by his compromised health.

Herbert suffered fractured rib cartilage in the Chargers’ previous game, Sept. 15 at Kansas City.

The Chargers travel to face Houston next Sunday.

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Jaguars score another touchdown to leave Chargers in the dust

🏈 Jaguars 38, Chargers 10 — 4:54 fourth quarter

Jacksonville opened up a 38-10 lead with a 14-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a Trevor Lawrence-to-Marvin Jones Jr. 11-yard touchdown.

The Jaguars have 20-minute time of possession advantage and have run 30 more plays than the Chargers.

There’s 4:54 left in the fourth quarter and Justin Herbert remains in the game.

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Jaguars score another TD against struggling Chargers

🏈 Jaguars 31, Chargers 10 — 1:15 third quarter

Jacksonville extended its lead to 31-10 when Trevor Lawrence hit Christian Kirk for a four-yard touchdown with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter.

Kirk beat Chargers cornerback Bryce Callahan to the front corner of the end zone.

Lawrence then hit tight end Evan Engram for a two-point conversion.

The Jaguars kept the drive going by converting fourth-and-one at the Chargers’ six-yard line in a sneak by Lawrence.

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James Robinson scores 50-yard touchdown on fourth down

🏈 Jaguars 23, Chargers 10 — 10:38 third quarter

James Robinson went 50 yards for a touchdown to put Jacksonville up 23-10 with 10:38 left in the third quarter.

On fourth-and-one from midfield, Robinson took advantage of a gaping hole as the Chargers’ right defensive front collapsed inside.

The Jaguars scored just five plays after the Chargers had closed to within one score on a Dustin Hopkins field goal.

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Justin Herbert unleashes huge 54-yard pass to set up field goal

🏈 Jaguars 16, Chargers 10 — 11:51 third quarter

Justin Herbert hit Jalen Guyton for a 54-yard gain to set up a Dustin Hopkins field goal on the opening drive of the second quarter.

Hopkins’ conversion came from 25 yards as the Chargers moved to within 16-10 with 11:51 remaining in the third quarter.

They lost another key starter on the series, however, as Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater exited and headed back to the locker room.

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Jaguars lead Chargers 16-7 at halftime

🏈 Jaguars 16, Chargers 7 — 1:02 second quarter

Riley Patterson kicked his third field goal — another 23-yarder — to put Jacksonville up 16-7 with 1:02 left before halftime.

The Chargers’ defense tightened again in the red zone and survived an apparent touchdown when replay review overturned Trevor Lawrence’s near 11-yard connection with tight end Evan Engram.

Jacksonville has one touchdown in four red-zone trips.

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Justin Herbert finds Mike Williams for Chargers’ first touchdown

🏈 Jaguars 13, Chargers 7 — 6:16 second quarter

Justin Herbert rebounded from his lost fumble to lead the Chargers on a touchdown drive to pull within 13-7 of Jacksonville midway through the second quarter.

The third-year quarterback completed seven of eight passes for 75 yards, hitting Mike Williams for a 15-yard touchdown with 6:10 remaining before halftime.

The Chargers used a series of quick, short passes to carve up the Jaguars’ defense.

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Trevor Lawrence touchdown pass extends Jaguars’ lead

🏈 Jaguars 13, Chargers 0 — 10:23 second quarter

Jacksonville took advantage of another Chargers’ turnover when Trevor Lawrence hit Zay Jones for a 14-yard touchdown strike.

The play put the Jaguars up 13-0 with 10:23 remaining in the second quarter.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert continued his shaky first half when he fumbled while being sacked by Dawuane Smoot, Jacksonville taking over at the Chargers’ 28-yard line.

Playing with fractured rib cartilage, Herbert is three for seven for 22 yards and two turnovers.

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Jaguars kick another field goal to extend their lead

🏈 Jaguars 6, Chargers 0 — 13:15 second quarter

Riley Patterson put Jacksonville up 6-0 with a 23-yard field goal with 13:52 remaining in the second quarter.

Despite giving up points, the sequence was a victory for the Chargers’ defense. The unit held after a turnover gave the Jaguars the ball at the Chargers’ five-yard line.

Cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. had the key play, backing up a Trevor Lawrence pass intended for Christian Kirk at the goal line on third down.

Jacksonville took over after a Justin Herbert interception that went off the hands of running back Sony Michel. The pass pin-balled around before being secured by Jacksonville linebacker Devin Lloyd.

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Jaguars take early lead; Joey Bosa suffers injury

🏈 Jaguars 3, Chargers 0 — 14:41 second quarter

Jacksonville scored the game’s first points on a Riley Patterson 22-yard field goal on the opening play of the second quarter.

The Jaguars went 63 yards in 12 plays.

The Chargers lost edge rusher Joey Bosa during the drive. He suffered a groin injury and headed to the medical tent after a second-down play.

Once he reached the sideline, Bosa tossed his helmet in apparent disgust. After being examined, he headed to the locker room.

The Chargers announced he is questionable to return.

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Justin Herbert starting for Chargers as he continues to nurse rib injury

Quarterback Justin Herbert started Sunday against Jacksonville after beginning the day as questionable for the game because of fractured rib cartilage.

The Chargers also had both backup quarterbacks — Chase Daniel and Easton Stick — active and were down to four healthy wide receivers with Keenan Allen out because of a hamstring injury.

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NFL readers Q&A: Why did the Chargers keep playing Justin Herbert vs. Chiefs?

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert passes while teammates defend him.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert passes during a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 15.
(Ed Zurga / Associated Press)

Readers ask our NFL football experts questions about the Rams, the Chargers and the league. Rams beat writer Gary Klein, Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller and NFL writer Sam Farmer answer:

Was it foolish for the Chargers to play Justin Herbert after he was injured and in pain when the team was down 10 points with only a few minutes to play?

Steve Karges, San Diego

Miller: I asked coach Brandon Staley specifically about Herbert staying in the game last week despite being in obvious distress. Mostly, I was wondering if the Chargers were at all concerned about Herbert’s ability to protect himself. Staley noted the play on which Herbert could have potentially run for a first down but instead threw the ball away as an example of him, in fact, protecting himself. That he led them to a touchdown and then the Chargers nearly recovered the following onside kick suggests that, even at 10 points, their deficit shouldn’t have been a deterrent in still trying to win.

Klein: With his team down by 10 points with only a few minutes to play, you can be sure that Herbert wanted to play. Maybe even demanded it. Quarterbacks are team leaders. They know that nearly every other player on an NFL team absorbs more physical punishment and plays in more pain than they do. Winning the game is paramount. And for a quarterback, showing teammates you will do everything possible to make that happen is the same.

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Justin Herbert already proved he can throw with rib injury

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hands off to running back Austin Ekeler.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hands off to running back Austin Ekeler against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 15.
(Peter Aiken / Associated Press)

When Justin Herbert returned to the field after sitting out only one play, Keenan Allen — probably like a lot of Chargers fans — figured things couldn’t be too bad.

But, just a few minutes later, Herbert rolled to his right on third and one and, with room to run for the first down, instead gingerly and feebly tossed the ball into the Arrowhead Stadium turf to kill the play.

“It didn’t look like a real injury because he landed on his butt,” Allen said Thursday of the moment Herbert suffered fractured rib cartilage last week against Kansas City.

But then recalling the throwaway on third down, Allen said he concluded, “OK, he must have a real problem. He’s hurting. He’s hurting for sure.”

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Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Betting odds, lines, picks and predictions

The Chargers are a touchdown favorite against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, but how will Justin Herbert’s rib injury affect the offense?

This season has already run the gamut. Two weeks in, we’ve seen some big upsets, some surprising 2-0 teams, unsurprising 0-2 teams and a lot of sloppy football with few teams taking the preseason seriously. The more games we get, the more everything should settle in, hopefully leading to a little more predictability for bettors.

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Justin Herbert is active for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert looks to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 15.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Quarterback Justin Herbert is active for the Chargers’ game Sunday against Jacksonville.

He has been dealing with fractured rib cartilage suffered Sept. 15 against Kansas City.

Herbert wasn’t on the field for the early portion of warm-ups, with Chase Daniel and Easton Stick taking all the reps.

Here are the Chargers’ inactives: Center Corey Linsley (knee), wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring), cornerback J.C. Jackson (ankle), tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring), defensive lineman Christian Covington, running back Isaiah Spiller.

Starting right tackle Trey Pipkins III is active. He suffered a foot injury in Week 2.

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Chargers vs. Jaguars matchups, how to watch and prediction

Breaking down how the Chargers (1-1) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) matchup heading into their game at 1:05 p.m. PDT Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be shown on CBS and streamed on Paramount+ and NFL+.

When Chargers have the ball: The tenor of this block of text is entirely dependent on the availability of Justin Herbert. The Chargers’ Pro Bowl quarterback is officially questionable because of fractured rib cartilage. The Chargers went from seven-point favorites Thursday to three-point favorites Friday after it was reported that Herbert wasn’t throwing in practice.

The Chargers’ potential offensive issues aren’t limited to Herbert’s uncertain status. Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley (knee) is doubtful and Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) has a “50-50” chance being ready, coach Brandon Staley said.

Starting right tackle Trey Pipkins III (foot) also is questionable. If Herbert can’t play, veteran backup Chase Daniel will start, Staley said. Whoever is at quarterback, the Chargers’ plan probably will include an emphasis on shorter, quicker passes. That approach would limit Herbert’s vulnerability or take advantage of what Daniel likely is going to be most comfortable doing.

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Justin Herbert is prepared to start Sunday for Chargers

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert looks to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 15.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

To appreciate how much pain he was feeling in that exact moment, consider this: With barely two minutes left and his Chargers down and desperate, Justin Herbert surrendered.

For one play, the team’s Pro Bowl quarterback was moved to forgo potentially running for a first down and instead flipped the ball into the turf.

That happened in the Chargers’ most recent game — Sept. 15 in Kansas City — after Herbert suffered what later would be diagnosed as fractured rib cartilage.

Now, here’s Herbert, eight days later, matter of factly dismissing his injury and the resultant agony it brought him.

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