Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert took the field with a chance to earn a fourth-quarter comeback Monday night against Dallas. Instead, he got battered by the Cowboys' pass rush, ultimately throwing the game-sealing interception in the 20-17 loss.
"They've got a really good front seven," Herbert said after the defeat, via the official transcript. "I thought our offensive line battled and they did a great job upfront. Unfortunately, we fell short. I have to make more plays as a quarterback."
Despite only taking one sack Monday night, Herbert was pressured on 47.6 percent of his dropbacks, the highest percent of his season, per Next Gen Stats. The highly paid QB struggled with Cowboys defenders in his face, completing just 41.2 percent of his passes for 86 yards and an INT for a 33.0 passer rating -- 75.0%, 141 yards, 2 TDs, 127.3 rating when not pressured.
"I think we can do a lot better on offense," Herbert said. "Especially at quarterback, I can play a lot better. I thought the defense came up with some big stops today. Held them when we needed them to. It's on us as an offense."
Herbert dismissed any thought that the injured finger on his non-throwing hand, which was heavily taped, led to the struggles.
The QB is coming off back-to-back games during which he's struggled to lift the Chargers to new heights. He set career lows in Week 4 against the Raiders with 13 completions and 176 yards. Coming out of a bye on Monday night, he put up 227 yards with two touchdowns, but the miscues were glaring.
"I missed a couple receivers. Threw some bad passes," he said. "There was a lot left out there. There's a lot to work on and a lot to improve on."
It wasn't just the game-sealing interception. Herbert also missed a bevy of throws, including two shots to Keenan Allen that would have been massive gains.
"Keenan ran two great routes and I missed him," he said. "That's on me as a quarterback. We have those explosive opportunities and we have to capitalize on those. That's a really good defense that we're going up against. I can't miss those like that and expect to continue get back on third down and get back on track on second down. Tough opportunities. We'll watch the film and be critical on ourselves. We're learn from it."
L.A. marched downfield on its first possession, going 47 yards on five plays to open the scoring. Then the offense hit a lull the rest of the first half, generating six first downs and zero points. In the second half, Brandon Staley's club struggled to punch it in from the goal line, settling for three third-quarter points on two trips inside Dallas' 10-yard line.
The Chargers tied the score late but couldn't close when it counted.
"I think it's our job, as an offense, to be able to score more points and put up points," Herbert said. "When our defense is playing as well as they are, we have to capitalize on those turnovers, capitalize on the field position. It's on us as an offense."
The offensive issues for the Chargers are manifold. From questionable play-calling at times, to Herbert's misses, to an overreliance on Allen with Mike Williams injured, to a lack of a consistent running game. Monday, all those issues blended for another loss. Herbert is paid to overcome those issues. When he can't, the losses will mount.