Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) suffered a fractured right index finger in a 24-7 loss against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, December 10. 2023 (Chargers Media)

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert suffered a hand injury that forced the franchise play caller to miss the second half of a 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday evening at SoFi stadium.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley announced his QB will undergo multiple tests and opinions on the injury before deciding whether he can return this season. However, Herbert is very likely to undergo surgery on his fractured right index finger, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“It’s obviously tough,” Herbert said. “You feel bad for hanging the team out like that. You never want to be taken out of the game … it is something that we’ll know more as the week goes on and if there’s any chance to play, I’ll do everything I can to be out there.”

Herbert was unable to grip the football correctly after being tackled by Denver’s Zach Allen while throwing a pass in the second quarter. This marked Herbert’s second-hand injury of the season as he fractured the middle finger on his non-throwing hand in week 4.

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“All of our focus has got to be on his future,” Staley said. “Certainly, there’s nothing more important than that, than his right hand. And his long-term future. He’s 25 years old and he’s got a really, really bright future in front of him. So, like I said, every decision we make is going to be with that in mind.”

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) became the fastest wide receiver in NFL history to reach 900 catches with six receptions for 68 yards during a 24-7 loss against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, December 10. 2023 (Chargers Media)

The Chargers fell to 5-8 on the year with the loss and have dropped four of five while falling to third place in the AFC West.

Herbert, who has started in 62 consecutive games for Los Angeles, holds the second-longest active streak by a quarterback in the league, trailing only behind Buffalo Bills play caller Josh Allen (84).

“I can’t remember whether it got hit on a helmet or whether it hit on someone’s shoulder pads. I just remember coming up and it wasn’t feeling right,” said Herbert, who was 9 of 17 for 96 yards with an interception.

Easton Stick was called upon to start in place of Herbert in the second half for the Chargers and he was able to connect on a 57-yard pass to Quentin Johnston which then set up Austin Ekeler four plays later for a four-yard rushing score to make it 17-7 with 10:37 left in the fourth.

Denver moved to 7-6 with the win as the Broncos were able to earn their first division road win since 2019 while moving into second place in the AFC West after winning six of their last seven games.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) scored on a 4-yard rush in the fourth quarter during a 24-7 loss against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, December 10. 2023 (Chargers Media)

“We did a good job harassing the quarterback, both of them. It was one of our better team wins this season,” said Broncos coach Sean Payton.

Russell Wilson completed 21 of 33 passes for 224 yards for two touchdowns, including a deep 46-yard score to Courtland Sutton in the third quarter. Javonte Williams gave Denver a 7-0 lead after converting a 3-yard score five minutes into the first period and Adam Trautman caught a 10-yard touchdown with three minutes left in the fourth to give the Broncos a 24-7 lead.

“We’re in a horse race. We’re three quarters the way through and we have to finish last quarter strong,” said Wilson.

Keenan Allen finished with six receptions for 68 yards and became the fastest receiver in NFL history to reach 900 catches. Allen reached the milestone in his 139th game, four games faster than Antonio Brown.

Allen has recorded 904 receptions in his 11th career season as the veteran receiver currently leads the league with 108 catches in what has been a frustrating year overall for the Chargers.

“Obviously frustrated. The season didn’t go how you wanted it to. Still got, what, four games left? So we’ll keep at it,” Allen said.

The Chargers will rely on Stick to lead the offense when Los Angeles travels on a short week to face the Las Vegas Raiders (5-8) on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.