Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers were likely preparing for a shootout against Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars, as the AFC South Champions managed to win five straight games and earn a miracle playoff birth on the back of their star quarterback's tremendous arm.
Creating turnovers had to be a point of emphasis for this Los Angeles defense, as ball security is one of the main reasons that Lawrence and the rest of Doug Pederson's offense has been so effective in the last few weeks. It took all of one pass attempt for Brandon Staley to make an impact on the game.
A deflected Lawrence pass at the line of scrimmage ended up in the hands of Drue Tranquill, who had a very long runeback that set LA up for success. This sucked the air right out of the building in Jacksonville, which is exactly what Staley was trying to do.
Just two plays later, the Chargers found paydirt for the first time in this game, scampering through a parade of teal jerseys as he kept his balance and scored, putting LA up 7-0. The Chargers may not have shown off Herbert's rocket arm on that drive, but six points are six points. Mike Williams who?
The Chargers struck first against the Jaguars thanks to Austin Ekeler.
After getting gouged on a semi-regular basis, Staley's oft-mocked defense has really shown up in the last few weeks. Even against a Jacksonville offense that was lighting up the scoreboard coming into the playoffs, Staley and his tremendous secondary have been able to force them into multiple errors so far.
On the next drive, Pederson decided to foolishly go for the first down on 4th-and-7 with the game still at 7-0 in the first quarter. The combination of an errant throw by Lawrence and Zay Jones not being able to win his route cleanly led to a second interception deep in LA territory.
While Lawrence has undoubtedly had some bad luck early in this game due to a few errant bounces of the ball, the Chargers are doing an excellent job of making him force tough throws into coverage.
The Chargers look nothing like the team that Lawrence and the Jaguars completely stomped in their first meeting way back in September. While Lawrence appears to be coming down off the high of a hard-fought division-winning game last week, Staley and the Chargers are locked in and ready to make moves in the AFC.