Justin Herbert threw for 323 yards with four touchdowns but it was not enough as the Los Angeles Chargers fell to the Detroit Lions 41-38 in an emphatic back-and-forth thriller on Sunday afternoon at SoFi stadium.
Detroit kicker Riley Patterson converted a 41-yard field goal as time expired, improving the Lions to 7-2 on the season. The Chargers fell to 4-5 on the year with the loss.
“One of those things we haven’t done a lot of is win the close shootouts. Every time you win and get it done you learn something from it,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “The offense really showed up today big time.”
The NFC North-leading Lions recorded 533 total yards and tallied 200 yards in the rushing department as they relied on their dynamic running back duo. Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns.
David Montgomery returned after missing two games with a rib injury and had 116 yards on 12 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs finished with 112 total yards and two touchdowns.
“It just shows you the ability we have as an offense,” Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said. “I mean, we can explode at any point.”
St. Brown, an Anaheim Hills native and former Southern California wideout finished with eight catches for 156 yards and one touchdown.
“There have been games where we haven’t put up enough points and there were big games where we put up some points. It didn’t happen today,” said Herbert.
Detroit took an early 17-3 lead after Gibbs scored on a one-yard rush with four minutes left in the first quarter and another one-yard score with 7:30 left in the second.
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen finished 11 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Herbert connected with Allen on a 29-yard score to get within seven, 17-10 but it was Montgomery who exploded for a 75-yard score while dodging tackles and tight roping the sideline to take a 24-10 advantage with 3:07 left in the second quarter.
“It was close. I started praying again. Well, luckily it worked out,” Montgomery said on his long run.
Austin Ekeler scored on a two-yard carry with 23 seconds remaining in the first half to get the Chargers within a one score game again at 24-17 just before halftime.
The Chargers tied the game at 24-24 when Herbert threw an 18-yard touchdown to Jalen Guyton seven minutes into the third but St. Brown’s 20-yard score allowed the Lions to retake a 31-24 advantage with 4:31 left in the period.
Quentin Johnston made his biggest play of the season as the Chargers first-round pick scored his first touchdown on a one-yard catch on fourth-and-goal to tie the game 31-31 with 11:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Lions responded right back after Goff connected with tight end Brock Wright on a 25-yard score to make it 38-31 only before Allen hauled in his second score of the game on a 38-yard touchdown from Herbert with 3:34 left in the fourth to tie the game at 38-38.
“I thought early on it was gonna be a shootout, and that’s what it ended up being, a shootout. You got two great offenses. No matter how good a defense is, it’s hard to stop a great offense,” said Allen.
With 1:47 remaining in the game and the Lions facing a fourth-and-2 from the Los Angeles 26-yard line, Campbell decided to go for it and Goff delivered as he connected on a six-yard completion to rookie tight end Sam LaPorta which led to Patterson’s 41-yard field goal as time expired, resulting in a 41-38 victory for the Lions.
“To each his own,” Campbell said on his decision to go for the first down. “Some say it’s a boneheaded move, some say it’s not. I made the decision and I stick by that decision.”
“I didn’t do a good enough job on defense for us today, that was the story,” said Chargers coach Brandon Staley. “On run and pass, didn’t do a good enough job on the run game in the first half, and then in the second half there were far too many [explosive plays]. So I didn’t do a good enough job for us today.”
The Chargers will next travel to face the Green Bay Packers (3-6) on Sunday at 10 a.m.