Takeaways From Los Angeles Chargers’ 31-30 Wild Card Round Loss to Jacksonville Jaguars

Takeaways From Los Angeles Chargers’ 31-30 Wild Card Round Loss to Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars pulled off an improbable comeback to beat the Chargers 31-30 Saturday night at TIAA Bank Field in the Wild Card round.

Here are the results from the Chargers’ devastating season-ending loss:

Asante Samuel Jr.’s career game. hides from the epic collapse

The Chargers defense came out of the gates swinging, picking off Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence four times in the first half, including three interceptions by cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. in his first postseason game.

Samuel’s hat-trick put him in rare territory. He became the first player with three interceptions in a single postseason game since Ty Law in the 2003 AFC Championship against Indianapolis.

Lawrence was haunted in the first half by Samuel’s shooting ability. Through the first two quarters, Lawrence completed just 10 of 27 passes for 77 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.

However, just when everything fell in favor of the Chargers in the first half, the final two quarters took a turn for the worst that ultimately changed the outcome of the game in which the Jaguars orchestrated an improbable comeback to advance to the Divisional Round.

The Chargers get the layup, but still have a 27-point lead

With four interceptions and a fumble recovery, the Chargers finished the game plus-five in turnover margin, a strong feeling in which they forced punts and didn’t turn the ball over on offense.

But despite owning such a huge margin in one of the key stats that generally leads to good results, the Chargers let a 27-point lead slip through their hands.

“We just didn’t play clean enough football in the second half in all three phases,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said of what allowed Jacksonville to get back into the game. “We didn’t score the ball or possess it enough defensively. We had a lot of penalties in the second half that really hurt us and we didn’t play well enough in the red zone, we didn’t play well there in the last two minutes of the game.”

The Chargers became the first team in postseason history to be plus-five in turnover differential and lose. Previously, they were 17-0 all-time with a plus-five shooting margin or better.

With 3:18 left in the second quarter and a 27-0 lead, the Chargers had a 98.8% chance to win, according to Next Generation Statistics. The Jaguars’ late-game heroics go down as the fifth most improbable comeback of the season, according to the metric.

There aren’t many other ways to sum up what happened at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday night other than the Chargers fell apart after hitting a commanding lead.

“Anytime you’re up 27-7 at halftime and you have four plays and you end up winning the break, it’s going to be a killer,” Staley said. “I’m hurting for everybody in that locker room. It’s a special group of guys. That’s the hardest way you can lose in the playoffs.”

The attack disappeared in the second half

After scoring 27 points in the first half, the Chargers added just three more points in the second half on Cameron Dicker’s 50-yard field goal. Dicker also missed a 40-yard attempt with 8:47 left in the fourth quarter.

Holding a double-digit lead for much of the second half, the Chargers held the ball on four drives in which they finished with one field goal, one missed field goal and two fumbles. They just lost their pass rush and can’t run the ball to eat time off the clock.

Austin Ekeler didn’t have any rushing yards in the second half and the Chargers ran the ball just eight times in the final two quarters.

“It was frustrating,” Staley said of the running game. “I just didn’t have enough success at the line of scrimmage and not enough yards after contact. I just didn’t play a good second half of football at any stage.

“Obviously, when you have that kind of lead, if you can possess the ball effectively enough, then there’s not going to be enough time, and we just didn’t do that, and then we didn’t score the ball either.”

The Chargers entered the game thin at wide receiver and they finished the game even thinner at wide receiver, which certainly didn’t help their offense.

Mike Williams did not make the trip to Jacksonville after suffering a fractured back in last week’s Week 18 game, which had no playoff implications. The Chargers continued to hold no wide receivers off the practice squad ahead of Saturday’s Wild Card game, and with DeAndre Carter out with an ankle injury and not returning, the only wide receivers available were Keenan Allen, Joshua Palmer and Michael Bandy. .

Herbert was 10-for-19 for 134 yards in the second half.

“A tough game for us. Offensively, we have to do more in the second half,” Herbert said. “I feel terrible for the defense for the tremendous effort they put out there today.”

Joey Bosa’s reckless conduct forced a game-changing penalty

Joey Bosa, in his third game back from a groin injury that forced him to miss 12 games, did the team no favors on the field with a lack of discipline.

Bosa issued two penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and the last proved to be of great importance. Officials flagged Bosa a second time after he was visibly frustrated over a no call he thought should have been a false start on Jaguars tight end Jawaan Taylor. Jacksonville scored a touchdown with 5:25 left.

“I think he felt like there were a bunch of things that piled up during the game and he tried to talk to the officials,” Staley said of Bosa. “But we can’t lose our cool like that. We have to make sure we stay on the high side of things and we can’t hurt the team like that.”

Bosa walked to the sideline and slammed his helmet with both hands, drawing the second of two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the night. Staley took the helmet, handed it to Bosa before he slammed it into the ground a second time.

While the Jaguars were given the opportunity to gain free space on punt or kickoff, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson elected to take the extra 1 yard and attempt a two-point conversion on which they converted, making it the 30. .-28 game just one drive short of hitting the game-winning field goal.

Pederson was asked after the game if he would have gone for two points if Bosa hadn’t called a penalty, and he responded by saying “probably not.”

Questions swirl about what the loss means for the futures of Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco

The Chargers finished the regular season with a 10-7 record and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2018. But is that enough to keep Staley and Telesco’s jobs safe?

The team’s handling of the Week 18 matchup, playing the starters despite the final score having no bearing on what it meant for the start of the playoffs, clearly came back to bite them when Williams didn’t was able to play in the postseason.

They’re also on the wrong side of the record books, as the Chargers’ devastating loss to the Jaguars marked the third-largest comeback in playoff history.

The franchise now enters an offseason with a host of questions. Are they confident they’ll bring it back with the same decision makers despite spending more money in an offseason than ever before and not having a playoff win to show for it? Or is it time to look ahead and bring in a new coach and general manager?

Speculation looms large, but decisions won’t be made until Staley and Telesco sit down with ownership for a late-season evaluation.

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of the Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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