Chargers hope their penchant for picks will frustrate Derek Carr and Raiders

Chargers safety Nasir Adderley breaks up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage.
Chargers safety Nasir Adderley breaks up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage during the Chargers’ 20-17 win at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

There were only 47 seconds remaining Sunday when Justin Herbert threw an interception against Atlanta, potentially putting the Chargers in position to suffer another late loss.

Trotting back onto the field, defensive end Joey Bosa said he harbored no such concerns.

“When we turned the ball over, I never got that feeling of doubt or we were going to lose,” he said. “I actually was kind of excited to have the game on our shoulders. It kind of played out how I expected it to.”

After the Falcons moved into Chargers territory with one Matt Ryan completion, cornerback Michael Davis stepped in front of receiver Calvin Ridley for his third interception of the season and second in three games.

Herbert needed three completions to set up Michael Badgley for a 43-yard field goal as time expired in a 20-17 Chargers victory.


Despite more confusion in critical offensive situations in games, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said the team won’t change who calls the plays.

Dec. 14, 2020

Davis’ interception was the team’s third of the afternoon. Rayshawn Jenkins and Jahleel Addae had the others.

“Three picks, that’s huge,” Bosa said. “We need to do that more… You show what can happen when you take the ball away…. Game ball definitely went to the secondary.”

On Thursday, the Chargers will face a quarterback who has been intercepted at least once in each of the last four games. Derek Carr was picked off twice Sunday as Las Vegas lost to Indianapolis.

The Chargers had one of their best defensive stretches all season in shutting out Atlanta in the second half. Three of the Falcons’ final four possessions ended with turnovers.

“You know, they were pretty fired up,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “…You could see it on the sidelines, especially after a couple of the interceptions. They were pretty jacked up about it.”

Carr passed for two touchdowns in a 31-26 Raiders victory over the Chargers in Week 9 at SoFi Stadium.

Fans have been spared watching the Chargers’ on-field gaffes in person, but the team could be turning into football’s version of the Sterling-Era Clippers.

Dec. 13, 2020


Las Vegas finished that game with only 160 yards passing but also rushed for 160 more.

The Chargers (4-9) have been eliminated from playoff contention but could spoil things for the Raiders (7-6). Las Vegas remains alive but has little — if any — room for error.

Bosa appealing fines

Bosa has been fined twice recently for hits that game officials deemed to be illegal and the league office felt even stronger about. He said he planned to appeal both $15,000 judgments.

Bosa was fined for low hits on New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco on Nov. 22 and New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton on Dec. 6. He called the Flacco ruling “kind of ridiculous.”

“It’s a challenge for us, too,” Bradley said of trying to determine the league’s position. “We look at them, and we even ask questions.”

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa looks to the sky in frustration after being flagged for roughing the passer.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa looks to the sky in frustration after being flagged for roughing the passer against the New England Patriots on Dec. 6.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

On Sunday, defensive tackle Justin Jones sacked Ryan with a low hit but was not penalized. Officials apparently ruled that Jones had been blocked into Ryan.

“He’s been in tough positions where he’s trying to get the quarterback, scrambling to get to him and he’s had some low hits,” Bradley said of Bosa. “We’re learning about it, too.”

Not much to say

Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was given the opportunity to explain the Chargers’ decision to run the ball at the end of the first half against the Falcons but declined.

“I think coach addressed the situation earlier with you guys,” Steichen said Tuesday, referring to head coach Anthony Lynn. “We’re moving on to Vegas. And I gotta be better, too.”

Lynn called the decision a mistake but said he still had faith in Steichen and wouldn’t make any changes regarding who calls plays for the offense.

The Chargers ran the ball on third and one with no timeouts remaining in the final seconds. They were then unable to rush the field goal team onto the field without drawing a penalty that ended the first half.

They had a similar miscue at the end of the game in a 27-17 loss at Buffalo in Week 12.

Herbert isn’t running

Herbert has led the Chargers in rushing twice this season, including a victory over Jacksonville in Week 7 when he carried nine times for 66 yards.

But the dual aspect of the rookie quarterback’s game has disappeared over the last two weeks. Herbert hasn’t had an official rushing attempt since Nov. 29. In the last five games, he has eight carries for 19 yards.

The Chargers’ secondary — a group that goes by “JackBoyz” — intercepted Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan three times, playing a critical role in a 20-17 win.

Dec. 13, 2020

“It’d be great for me to run the ball, but we didn’t really have the opportunity,” Herbert said. “It’s kind of been our game plan.”

Bulaga in concussion protocol

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga remains in concussion protocol after being injured Sunday.

The other Chargers who were deemed unable to practice Tuesday included cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (foot) and linebacker Denzel Perryman (back).

The Chargers also placed safety Derwin James on the COVID-19 reserve list. James is out for the season because of a knee injury suffered in August.