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Herbert balls out vs Chiefs in first start; What Kansas City learned about the rookie

Justin Herbert ended up getting the start against the Chiefs in a game time decision from Head Coach Anthony Lynn after Tyrod Taylor experienced chest pains, and ended up taking the game all the way to an overtime decision narrowly in favor of the Chiefs. It appears KC will be facing off against Herbert 2 times a season for many years to come, so what did the Chiefs defense learn?

In a surprising move, Justin Herbert ended up getting the game time start when previous starting QB Tyrod Taylor experienced chest pains, due to his lung being punctured by a Chargers team doctor who was trying to give him an injection to help with rib pain he had been experiencing. Medical malpractice aside, the Chargers rookie ended up having a great debut against the Chiefs in his first career start, proving that the Chargers were right to draft him with the 6thoverall pick. This is annoying to Chiefs fans who will have to deal with another QB challenging Patrick Mahomes for AFC West supremacy for the foreseeable future. 

Herbert wasted no time in his first career start, leading the Chargers on an 8 play, 79 yard drive culminating with a 4 yard TD run on which he took a decent hit in the endzone but showed resilience by immediately getting up and celebrating his first career touchdown. A couple of drives later, the first year QB drove the Chargers down the field again, ending this drive with a 3rddown TD pass to fellow rookie Jalen Guyton for his first TD pass and Guyton’s first TD reception. According to NFL research, this put Herbert as the first player to have a rushing TD and passing TD in the first half of their debut since 1954 when Bob Clatterbuck did it for the New York Giants.

In the second half, the rookie QB in him came out, after driving his team to the Kansas City 39 yard line he rolled left and tried to make a cross body pass a la Patrick Mahomes, but came up short when the pass was picked off by another rookie who has been showing out this season, L’Jarius Sneed. This was the spark that the Chiefs needed, and Patrick Mahomes did what Patrick Mahomes does, leading Kansas City on a scoring drive and tying the game on a 2 point conversion on an insane pass and catch by Mecole Hardman. 

So what did the Chiefs learn about the young QB in LA? He has talent, that is for sure, but he also seemed to wilt when the game was on the line. He doesn’t seem to have the clutch gene that Mahomes possesses, but then again other than Tom Brady, who does? It’s still super early in his career, but after one start in the league, it looks like the Chiefs will have to deal with some solid QB play from their rivals in LA. The pass rush is going to be key in future Chiefs/Chargers matchups; if the Chiefs can get half of the pressure that the Chargers showed on Sunday, they can keep the long drives to a minimum. The Chargers look like they could be a contender to make the expanded playoffs this year, and Herbert isn’t going anywhere. The Chiefs pass rush needs Chris Jones and a healthy Frank Clark to step up and keep the pressure on the rookie in LA so he will continue to make rookie mistakes like he did on the attempted cross body throw that ended up in the hands of L’Jarius Sneed. Now that there is some tape on Herbert, the Chiefs can actually prepare a game plan against him as opposed to preparing all week to face Tyrod Taylor and getting blindsided by a game time decision to start Herbert. And as annoying as it for the Chiefs, it appears that Herbert and Mahomes will be facing off for many years to come. Lets hope the Chiefs can continue pulling out wins like they did on Sunday, no matter how ugly they are.

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