Chargers review: Jaguars await in a rematch of Week 3 blowout

Here’s what we learned, what we heard and what comes next after the playoff-bound Chargers lost wide receiver Mike Williams to a back injury and linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. to a stinger during a meaningless 31-28 loss to the lowly Denver Broncos on Sunday:


The fifth-seeded Chargers (10-7) face the fourth-seeded Jaguars (9-8) in a wild-card game on Saturday night in Jacksonville. The Chargers won four of their final five regular-season games to nail down their first playoff berth since the 2018 season. The Jaguars won their final five games.

Jacksonville routed the Chargers, 38-10, in Week 3 at SoFi Stadium, a game in which edge rusher Joey Bosa (groin), wide receiver Jalen Guyton (knee) and left tackle Rashawn Slater (biceps) suffered significant injuries. Bosa has returned to the team, but Guyton and Slater have not.

“Struggled running the ball,” Chargers running back Austin Ekeler recalled. “I think I had 15 total yards that day. That was definitely a struggle that day. That’s what I remember most. You want to learn from it, right? I will go back and see what they’ve been doing and adjust. Defenses change. Injuries. Schemes.

“It’ll be fun.”

In fact, Ekeler rushed for only 5 yards on four carries and the Chargers totaled only 26 yards on 12 carries. Ekeler led the Chargers with eight catches for 48 yards as quarterback Justin Herbert, dealing with fractured rib cartilage suffered one week earlier, completed 25 of 45 for 297 yards.

Much, if not all, of the postgame conversation centered on Herbert’s health and whether he should have continued in a game that was all but lost by the end of the third quarter. Herbert later said he wanted to play and so Chargers coach Brandon Staley kept him in a one-sided game.

Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence torched the Chargers for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 28-for-39 passing. Lawrence threw two of his touchdowns in the second half, when the Jaguars turned a 16-7 halftime lead into a 28-point blowout victory over the stunned Chargers.

Lawrence has thrown for 4,113 yards, completing 66.3% of his passes, with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He finished the regular season ninth in the NFL in passing yardage. Herbert was second behind Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (5,250 yards) with 4,739 yards.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen and tight end Donald Parham Jr. didn’t play in the Jacksonville game because of hamstring injuries. Center Corey Linsley also didn’t play because of an injury. So, the Chargers on Sept. 25 did not look like the Chargers who are set to face the Jaguars on Saturday night.

“We came into this year with so many new acquisitions in free agency, guys who hadn’t played together, and I believe that was Game 3, so we’re a lot different team, we’re a lot different team,” linebacker Drue Tranquill said. “We’ve played a lot of ball together. We’re excited for the opportunity.”

Said defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day: “It’s a great opportunity. They’re a great team. Trevor Lawrence is a great QB. They’ve got great O-linemen. They’ve got a bunch of guys up front. I know their tackles are good, too. They’ve got a great defense, They’re rolling. They’re confident. They’re feeling good.

“They should be.”


Williams suffered a back contusion that forced him from Sunday’s game against the Broncos, Staley said during a video conference call with beat reporters on Monday. An MRI exam showed no structural damage after Williams was hurt during an awkward tackle in the second quarter.

Staley said he expected Williams to practice at some point later this week.

In addition, Staley said Murray, who sustained a stinger in the second quarter, was expected to practice later this week. Cornerback Bryce Callahan, who was held out of Sunday’s game because of a nagging core injury, also will be back practicing, Staley said.


The Chargers will make their first playoff appearance since Anthony Lynn’s second year as their coach, when they finished the 2018 regular season with a 12-4 record and advanced to the second round before losing to the New England Patriots. It’s only their third postseason berth since 2010.

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