Chargers takeaways: Defense compensated for Titan interceptions

The Chargers beat Tennessee 17-14 on Sunday to enhance to 8-6 and transfer into sixth place within the AFC. (The highest seven advance to the playoffs.)

Their three remaining video games are at Indianapolis (4-9-1), house towards the Rams (4-9) and at Denver (4-10). They path the fifth seed, Baltimore (9-5), by one recreation.

Listed below are some observations from their second consecutive victory after they’d misplaced three of 4:

Herbert’s two misfires: Justin Herbert hadn’t thrown as many as two interceptions in a recreation since Week 16 of final season when he was picked off twice in Houston.

Towards the Titans, he was intercepted by security Joshua Kalu late within the first half and by security Kevin Byard within the third quarter.

On the primary, the Chargers have been going through second and 10 on the Tennessee 25-yard line with 12 seconds to go. Herbert threw within the course of Mike Williams within the entrance nook of the top zone.

Coach Brandon Staley defined later that the ball was imagined to be thrown out of bounds so as to kill time and arrange a field-goal try to shut the half.

As a substitute, the cross sailed over Williams’ head and alongside the sideline, the place cornerback Roger McCreary leapt and, earlier than touchdown out of bounds, redirected the ball to Kalu for the spotlight interception.

Roger McCreary laterals this cross supposed for the Chargers’ Mike Williams to Titans teammate Joshua Kalu (not proven) for an interception simply earlier than the top of the primary half.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Instances)

The second additionally got here with the Chargers already in field-goal place on the Tennessee 27. Herbert tried to squeeze the ball to Williams in tight protection.

“He wasn’t happy,” Staley mentioned of Herbert. “I knew that he would get them in the end. I don’t need to say anything to Justin. Justin knows exactly what happened out there. That’s why we love him because no one’s going to be tougher on him than himself.”

Herbert completed 28 of 42 for 313 yards, his fifth 300-yard recreation of the season. He didn’t throw a landing cross for simply the second recreation of 2022 and third of his profession.

Defensive assistance on the best way: The Chargers’ improved protection during the last two video games has an opportunity to get even higher.

Security Derwin James Jr. (quadriceps) and edge rusher Joey Bosa (core muscle) are anticipated to return, maybe as quickly as this week.

During the last two video games, the Chargers have given up solely 4 touchdowns, and a kind of got here on a fumble return. They’ve restricted the opposition to 11 of 37 on third down during the last three weeks.

“We’ve got a really good defensive cultural right now,” Staley mentioned. “We got a lot of guys who believe in each other. What we’ve had to do is have people step up and play significant roles and it’s brought out the best in them.”

Alohi Gilman began his second consecutive recreation Sunday as an alternative of James. He completed with eight tackles.

Rookie Ja’Sir Taylor subbed for Asante Samuel Jr. at outdoors cornerback in working conditions because the Chargers adjusted to take care of the Titans’ Derrick Henry.

Drue Tranquill, Kyle Van Noy, Chris Rumph II and Joe Gaziano every had a sack. Van Noy’s was his second in two video games and Gaziano’s the primary of his profession. Rumph’s solely different profession sack got here in Week 13 final season.

Kyle Van Noy (8) celebrates his sack of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill with Chargers teammate Khalil Mack (52).

Kyle Van Noy (8) celebrates his sack of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill with Chargers teammate Khalil Mack (52).

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Instances)

“You’re seeing all 11 players connected to the game plan, executing their assignments, their technique and their effort,” Staley mentioned. “They’re playing with the right energy. I felt like we played as hard as we’ve ever played since I’ve been here on defense.”

Again within the crimson: Within the days main as much as this recreation, Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi talked in regards to the significance of with the ability to run within the crimson zone.

The Chargers had struggled to take action of late, particularly on first down. They’d scored touchdowns on solely two of their 9 journeys contained in the opponent’s 20-yard line within the earlier two video games.

Towards the Titans, they have been two for 2 and ran the ball on all eight performs — gaining 31 yards — within the crimson zone.

“I felt the physicality down there,” Staley mentioned.

Making a connection: Sitting at 8-6 and with consecutive victories over groups that, proper now, are in place to make the playoffs, Staley was requested in regards to the Chargers overcoming so many accidents to key gamers to achieve this level.

He talked in regards to the Chargers changing into a “connected team,” an thought Staley has preached since being employed in January 2021.

“I think that because we’re connected it’s allowed us to endure all that’s happened this season,” he mentioned. “That is the only explanation. There’s no other way to explain it. Otherwise, we would be 3-9 or worse. We believe in one another and it’s because of what we do every day together.”

Within the grinder: The Chargers improved to 7-4 in one-score video games. Their solely victory that hasn’t ended inside one possession got here at Houston in Week 4, a 34-24 closing.

They’ve now performed seven one-score contests in a row.

“We’re used to being in these games,” Staley mentioned. “I think that you see the poise and the confidence in our team come alive when it’s tight.”

Third-quarter woes: The Chargers haven’t scored a landing within the third quarter since Week 5 in Cleveland. During the last 9 video games, they’ve produced solely 9 factors — three area targets — within the first quarter-hour popping out of halftime.

In his personal phrases: “He just gave me a chance to get my hands on it. I tried my hardest to make a play, and we were able to do that.” — vast receiver Mike Williams on the 35-yard completion from Justin Herbert to set up the Chargers’ profitable kick.