HOUSTON – – After losing to the modest Houston Texans on Sunday, Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley was quick to remind his players they still had plenty to play for.
âIt’s the tough side of the NFL,â Staley said. “It’s been a struggle for us all season. It will continue like this. We still have a lot ahead of us.”
Rex Burkhead ran for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns, and the Texans took advantage of three turnovers to beat the Chargers 41-29, with both teams missing more than a dozen players due to COVID-19 protocols .
The Chargers’ playoff chances took a serious hit with the loss. Outside linebacker Joey Bosa, running back Austin Ekeler, wide receiver Mike Williams and center Corey Linsley were among the top contributors to the COVID-19 list for LA (8-7), which came in second in the l ‘AFC West.
âWe had tons of guys out, they had tons of guys out,â said Los Angeles cornerback Chris Harris Jr. âA lot of guys got to show off and show what they were. could do, and we couldn’t really do that today. I don’t think we took full advantage of the opportunity that we had. “
Houston (4-11) saw 16 players miss the game on the COVID-19 roster – including top receiver Brandin Cooks, center Justin Britt, defensive end Jonathan Greenard and kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn – but managed to winning consecutive matches for the first time this season. The Texans beat Jacksonville last week.
Coach David Culley was impressed with the players who replaced the missing starters.
âThese guys came and they showed they were ready to do what we had to do,â he said. “This team is so tough. They never really cared about what’s going on on the outside, all we tried to do was just improve.”
Burkhead recorded 25-yard and 1-yard touchdowns as the Texans, who entered the game last in rushing yards, ran for a high 189 yards. Rookie Davis Mills threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
âWe played our most complete game of football,â Culley said.
Justin Herbert of the Chargers threw for 336 yards with one rushing touchdown and two interceptions. Justin Jackson ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns and had 98 yards to replace Ekeler, but his fumble in the fourth quarter led to a Houston field goal that hampered LA’s return attempt.
On the Chargers’ next possession, Jackson scored on a 9-yard rush and Herbert joined Jared Cook on the 2-point conversion to bring the Chargers down to 27-23.
But Mills hit Nico Collins for a 13-yard touchdown with less than three minutes to go to take Houston’s lead to 34-23. Tavierre Thomas actually finished with a pick-6 for 48 yards with just under two minutes to go.
Staley took responsibility for the loss, which came after last week’s overtime loss to Kansas City.
âI haven’t trained well enough,â he said. “I didn’t put our guys in a good enough position to be consistent in the game, and that’s why we lost.”
Burkhead’s second touchdown, a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter, made it 24-15.
Three games later, DeMarcus Walker pulled the ball out of Jackson and the ball was picked up by Jonathan Owens, who also created another turnaround at the end of the second quarter that helped Houston take the lead definitively. . Owens knocked out Herbert at the goal line with about four minutes left in the first half.
Owens’ girlfriend, Olympic gold medalist gymnast Simone Biles, attended the game and was seen on the stadium video panel clapping and clapping after the interception.
The Texans conceded the mistake with a 94-yard drive capped by a 41-yard touchdown pass from Mills to Chris Conley for a 17-12 halftime lead.
Dominik Eberle, signed this week with Fairbairn on the COVID-19 roster, scored his first field goal in the NFL in the first attempt of his career – a 51 yards that reduced LA’s lead to 12-10 in the second trimester. He finished 2 for 3 on field goal attempts.
Dustin Hopkins connected on 50, 46 and 35 yard baskets for the Chargers.
Los Angeles LB Drue Tranquill started in the third quarter with a leg injury. â¦ Houston WR Phillip Dorsett injured his foot in the fourth quarter and did not return.
FAMOUS FACE IN THE CROWD
Along with Biles, the sparse crowd included another celebrity as rapper 50 Cent sat next to Texans owner Cal McNair, his wife Hannah and former Houston star wide receiver Andre Johnson. The New York rapper, who moved to Houston earlier this year, received a loud ovation when he was shown on the video panel during a timeout.
Chargers: hosts Denver next Sunday.
Texans: visit San Francisco next Sunday.