By Tim Peterson
(Inglewood) – The Chargers withstood a Jacksonville rally with a 20 point third quarter and went on to beat the Jaguars 39-29 Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers led by two at the half but immediately gave that up on their first possession of the third quarter when the Jaguars blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.
But the Chargers offense came to life in the third with a couple of quick strikes by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and they were able to survive.
Michael Badgley kicked a 35-yard field goal on the Chargers opening drive for the first score of the game. Later in the quarter the Chargers drove 71 yards on 11 plays culminating with 7-yard touchdown run by Joe Reed. The extra point was missed and the Chargers had a 9-0 lead after one.
Early in the second quarter Herbert capped a six play, 62-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Donald Parham Jr. to make it 16-0.
Jacksonville responded with a 78-yard drive on six plays. James Robinson bulled his way in from four yards out to finish it. Robinson then scored on a run for the two point conversion to cut the LA lead in half at 16-8.
Robinson hauled in a 9-yard pass from Gardner Minshew late in the quarter to cap a 67-yard Jaguar march with just 11 seconds left in the first half. The two point try failed and the Chargers went into the break up 16-14.
Then the Jaguar defense took a bite out of LA when on the Chargers first possession of the third quarter Ty Long’s punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Daniel Thomas to give Jacksonville its first lead of the game.
On the next LA possession Badgley missed a 48-yard field goal.
The Jaguars were then stopped on fourth down giving the Chargers good field position at the Jacksonville 47.
The Chargers took advantage when Herbert found tight end Virgil Green in the left corner of the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown strike. The two point conversion failed leaving the Chargers with a 22-21 lead with over five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Jaguars had an answer as Minshew hit Chris Conley on a 28-yard touchdown pass. Ben Ellefson hauled in the two point conversion for a 29-22 lead.
In the next series, on what had suddenly become a shootout, Herbert connected with Jalen Guyton in stride down the right sideline for a 70-yard catch and run to tie it at 29.
Dede Westbrook fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Chargers were right back in business at the Jaguar 19. Four plays later Herbert scampered in from the five yard line with five seconds left in the third quarter and LA was back on top to stay 36-29.
Badgley booted a 35-yard field goal with 6:26 left in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 10.
The Chargers made one more stop and ran out the last four minutes for the victory.
“Our goal was to be 1-0 this week and we got that done. It wasn’t pretty and we didn’t think it was going to be easy but we found a way to get it done,” said Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn.
Herbert, who took over for the injured Tyrod Taylor before the Week 2, completed 27 of 43 for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. He also led the team in rushing running 9 times for 66 yards and a score. Although he didn’t catch a touchdown pass, Keenan Allen was his go to guy with 10 receptions for 125 yards.
For the Jaguars Minshew was 14 of 27 for 173 yards and two scores. Robinson rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers improved to 2-4 with the win while the Jaguars fell to 1-6. The Chargers will travel to Las Vegas next week to take on the Raiders.
JAX 0 14 15 0 29
LAC 9 7 20 3 39