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Chargers' defense under Brandon Staley reaches new lows in shootout loss to Lions

Sun, Nov 12, 2023
NFL News (AP)

Chargers' defense under Brandon Staley reaches new lows in shootout loss to Lions

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - The Los Angeles Chargers' embattled and embarrassed defense reached new lows in Sunday's 41-38 loss to the Detroit Lions.

"Offense did their thing today, and we needed to step up," rookie outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu said.

After strong performances in comfortable wins against the Chicago Bears and New York Jets - opponents with inexperienced quarterbacks and struggling offensive lines - the Chargers regressed by allowing 533 yards to the balanced, physical and talented Lions.

"It was a shootout," linebacker Eric Kendricks said. "We needed one stop, especially late in the game, and we couldn't get it."

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It was apparent from their third snap on defense that the Chargers (4-5) were going to have a tough time getting stops. Amon-Ra St. Brown caught a pass on a deep crossing route and took it 46 yards to set up a field goal, the first of Detroit's nine plays of at least 20 yards.

Things got even worse once running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery started generating big gains on the ground, taking advantage of a lack of push up front, missed tackles and mistakes in leverage.

Gibbs followed his blockers before cutting back and accelerating for a 35-yard run, which set up his 1-yard plunge on the next play for the first Detroit touchdown.

It looked even easier for Montgomery on his 75-yard scoring burst late in the second quarter. The Chargers were overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage, allowing Montgomery to reach full speed before making a cut that left two defenders running into each other.

The Lions (7-2) had 200 yards rushing, including 177 in the first half. Montgomery had 116 yards on 12 carries, and Gibbs finished with 77 yards and two touchdowns.

"We pride ourselves on playing the run, so that's even more frustrating for me," outside linebacker Khalil Mack said.

The Lions' early success allowed quarterback Jared Goff to take over in the second half, attacking with screens and play-action. He finished with 333 yards passing and two touchdowns.

"If we can't stop the run, the playbook is open, you know," Tuipulotu said. "Like everything is open."

Detroit punted once in 10 possessions, with only a brief clock-killing drive to end the first half failing to reach Los Angeles territory. It was the first time in Lions history they had at least 325 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in a game.

"It's nothing that they did," Mack said. "It's what we didn't do. And that's on me, I'll take that."

Coach Brandon Staley said the responsibility rested with him.

"Yeah, I didn't do a good enough job on defense for us today," Staley said. "That was the story, 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."

That's been a familiar refrain for Los Angeles in three seasons under Staley. He has lost four games in which the Chargers have scored at least 30 points, including their playoff meltdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars last January.

The Chargers lost 36-34 to the Miami Dolphins in their season opener.

"I mean, 38 points is enough for us to win any game," safety Derwin James Jr. said.

Not this one.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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Article Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.

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