Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers are heading to the playoffs, as they punched their ticket with a 20-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.
It’s the first time since the 2018 season that the Chargers have gotten into the playoffs, and the first time in young Justin Herbert’s career that he can finally get his shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Herbert was 24 of 31 through the air for 235 yards, though he never threw a touchdown. But he was able to use his rocket arm to find receivers, like Keenan Allen (11 catches, 104 yards), to get downfield and put points up on the board for Los Angeles.
It was an inauspicious start for both teams in this game, as Herbert and Nick Foles, who started in place of Matt Ryan, were turning the ball over.
First, Foles threw a ball deep down the right sideline that was picked off by Michael Davis for his first interception of the season, which he returned 30 yards to the Chargers’ 41-yard line.
But just three plays later, Herbert tried firing one to Keenan Allen that hit off his hands and went to safety Rodney Thomas, who snatched it before it landed on the turf to flip the field yet again.
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Then, Foles gave it right back again, throwing his second interception of the game on back-to-back possessions, this time with Derwin James Jr. leaping to grab it before going out of bounds.
Speaking of James, he was later ejected from the game after laying a dangerous hit on Colts wide receiver Ashton Dulin, who barely had a pass from Foles in his hands when James led with the crown of his helmet and rocked him.
Both players were evaluated for concussions after the hit. Fifteen yards were given to the Colts for unnecessary roughness. Referees announced James was ejected from the game as he went into the medical tent.
Dulin would eventually be ruled out with a concussion.
This sequence came after the Chargers finally found their footing on offense, and it came in the form of a 13-play drive that ended up with Austin Ekeler breaking the plane on a run for his first touchdown on the night.
Ekeler would find it again for one yard in the fourth quarter, as the Chargers pulled away, 20-3, and the Colts just couldn’t come back.
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The strategy of getting Foles to throw downfield just didn’t work for interim head coach Jeff Saturday and his coaching staff.
Foles would end up throwing another interception after telegraphing a pass in the second half that Asante Samuel Jr. pounced on, which resulted in a Chargers’ field goal.
He finished the game 17 of 29 for 143 yards and three interceptions. The Chargers were also able to sack him seven times, with Morgan Fox collecting two of them.
At 9-6, the Chargers will be playing for seeding in the AFC playoff picture now. They hold the sixth seed at the moment with the Miami Dolphins behind them at 8-7 in the seventh and final seed.
The Chargers will face the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in an “away” game next week.
Meanwhile, Saturday is just trying to finish the year on a high note as the Colts move to 4-10-1 on the year and still have a large question at quarterback.
They will head to MetLife Stadium next week to take on the New York Giants, who are hunting for their own playoff spot in the NFC.