Herbert fails to resolve Pats’ D area in brutal second straight game |

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) – Justin Herbert is in a rough spot for the first time in his up-and-coming NFL career.

Back-to-back East Coast opponents with suspicious veteran coaching teams put him there.

The talented second-year Chargers quarterback had a Halloween nightmare against Bill Belichick’s Patriots defense on Sunday, going 18 of 35 for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in Los Angeles 27-24 loss to New England.

Herbert was on the cusp of his career low in passing and completion percentage before throwing for 80 yards on the Chargers’ desperate last-minute strike. It was too late for Los Angeles to avoid its first losing skid under coach Brandon Staley.

“Offensively it was a tough day there,” said Herbert. “You can’t flip the ball that many times and expect to win. … There are a lot of things we need to fix, that’s for sure. “

Herbert was also not strong two weeks ago before the Chargers ‘exemption, going 22 of 39 for 195 yards in Los Angeles’ 34-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The offensive struggles against the Pats culminated in the play that likely decided the game early in the fourth quarter: Herbert gave a quick throw to tight end Jared Cook, who wasn’t even looking for the ball. Former Chargers defensive back Adrian Phillips dove for the interception, got up intact and scored the touchdown with 10:11 left.

Herbert and Staley both said the room was a simple communication problem. It was symptomatic of a greater disconnect between Herbert, his receivers, and his offensive line. None played at an impressive level against Belichick’s plans, or against the Ravens’ defense last time around.

“In the passing game we weren’t good enough today,” said Staley. “We didn’t protect the passer well enough today. We had too many crashes and we didn’t play with good timing sometimes because of those two things happening.

The Patriots came out as if they were planning to play man-to-man cover, only to fall off several times in a cover zone 2 defense. They had rarely shown this look on film this season, but it made sense. for a team struggling with injuries among its cornerbacks.

Herbert and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi quickly diagnosed the ploy, and Staley wanted the offense to patiently move the ball with controls underneath. It happened occasionally, but not often enough.

After Justin Jackson’s 75-yard run set up Keenan Allen’s 5-yard TD early in the second quarter, the Chargers’ next seven full throws fell short of the end zone. Largely because of the ploy, Herbert was unable to get the Bolts’ other receivers involved: Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton and Joshua Palmer combined for just four receptions on eight targets.

Belichick’s defense was probably responsible for the least impressive game of Herbert’s career in the Bolts’ infamous 45-0 loss last year. The loss sealed the fate of Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, who was sacked despite winning the last four games.

Herbert scored 26 of 53 for 209 yards with two interceptions in the glaring humiliation. Herbert ignored the Patriots connection between two of their worst games, saying, “It’s just the NFL. Every team that you are going to play is difficult.

Still, Herbert made over 50% of his throws in every one of his NFL appearances except last season against New England, and he was below 50% this Sunday until the desperate final practice of the Chargers.

The Bolts are not yet deeply frustrated. Back-to-back losses drew the full attention of a team that scored 105 points in their previous three games before this mini-crisis.

Allen, who recognized a key drop in the second half, said the issues were all the Chargers.

“I didn’t see anything of what they did that we didn’t understand what was going on,” Allen said. “I didn’t think this was all anything. We thought it would be the man (cover). They directed the man on film. We walked out, that was the zone. We knew they were going on. do, because they can’t cover us, that’s what they did.


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