The Los Angeles Chargers started their match up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a competitive fire that they could not maintain for all four quarters. After a stellar first quarter performance, the Chargers fell 31-38 to the Buccaneers.
Bolts quarterback Justin Herbert completed 20 passes for 290 yards earning three touchdowns, he also had 14 yards from five rushes. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen made eight catches for 62 yards.
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady made 30 throws for 369 yards, resulting in five touchdowns. Wide receiver Mike Evans made seven receptions for 122 yards and former USC running back Ronald Jones III made 20 carries for 11 yards.
Brady noted that Herbert’s performance on the field was impressive.
“Our defense played great all year and he hung in there and made a lot of good throws,” Brady said. “They hit us on some big plays – we blitzed them a little bit and he just stood in there and took it.”
Tampa Bay scored a touchdown on their first possession and the Chargers swiftly responded when Herbert slung a 53-yard pass to wideout Tyron Johnson to score.
“Coach preached this week ‘bring the juice’ and I’m known for bringing the juice in practice,” Johnson said. “I guess when I scored, I got the team energized.”
The Chargers defense was strong against the Buccaneers, corner Michael Davis committed a pick-six on a 78-yard play. In the final seconds of the first phase, linebacker Denzel Perryman sacked Brady.
Los Angeles converted four third downs before Herbert send a deep pass to wide out Donald Parham Jr. for 19 yards to score, lifting them to a 21-7 lead.
Despite the competitive rushing performance of Jones III, the Buccaneers struggled to advance across the field. The Chargers had momentum to score another touchdown but had to settle for a field goal after being hit with a 10-yard illegal block penalty.
Chargers rookie running back Joshua Kelley fumbled and turned the ball over at their own six-yard line, setting up a short trip to the endzone for the Buccaneers three plays later. By halftime, the Bolts were up 24-14.
Brady began to complete his passes, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end O.J. Howard. Los Angeles had to settle for a field goal kick on their next possession, but kicker Michael Bagely missed the mark.
“Guys gave up some explosive plays,” said Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. “Our defense was holding them down and we come out in the second half and whatever reason, we had some assignment mistakes.”
Tampa Bay’s veteran quarterback targeted wideout Scotty Miller on back-to-back plays, advancing the Buccaneers a combined 63 yards and back in the endzone. The Buccaneers clinched the lead with a 28-24 advantage.
“[Brady] is a great quarterback, so you can’t just let them hang around in the game,” Parham said. “You just got to find a way to put it away.”
Herbert shot a pass to wide receiver Jalen Guyton who escaped defenders to execute a 72-yard touchdown play, putting the Chargers back on top 31-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Tampa Bay continued to have success with their passing game, Brady connected with Evans for a 48-yard gain. Two plays later, the Buccaneers regained their lead. The Buccaneer defense was tough on the Chargers, linebacker Shaquil Barrett sacked Herbert and Los Angeles was denied a first down.
Jones III advanced the Buccaneers on the ground, reaching the Chargers’ red zone. Los Angeles denied Tampa Bay a touchdown, but kicker Ryan Succop secured a 26-yard field goal.
The Buccaneers were up by seven when cornerback Carlton Davis III made an interception and returned it for 31 yards, sealing the fate of the Chargers.
Next week, the Chargers battle the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football at 5:15P.M.