NFL Playoffs

Chargers Lead Jaguars 27-7 at Halftime in Wild Card Game

The playoff debuts for quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence got off to very different starts

Justin Herbert

Welcome to the playoffs, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert.

The wild card matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers marked the playoff debuts for two of the top young quarterbacks in the league. But the postseason starts for Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, and Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, got off to very different starts.

Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half - three by Asante Samuel Jr. - to give Herbert a short field to work with while helping the Chargers build a 27-7 halftime lead.

On the game's opening drive, Lawrence's first postseason pass was deflected by Sebastian Joseph-Day and Joey Bosa before being intercepted by Drue Tranquill to give the Chargers possession at the Jacksonville 18-yard line just 47 seconds into the game.

Austin Ekeler followed with a 13-yard touchdown run to give Los Angeles an early 7-0 lead.

Lawrence then was intercepted by Samuel Jr. on the Jaguars' next possession while the team went for it on fourth-and-7 from the Chargers 33-yard line. 

Herbert and the Chargers responded with a 10-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker to push the lead to 10-0.

Lawrence was intercepted by Samuel again on the Jaguars' next drive, putting the Chargers back in the red zone at the 16-yard line. Ekeler followed with a six-yard touchdown run for a 17-0 advantage.

Herbert later added his first postseason touchdown pass, connecting with Everett for a nine-yard score to give the Chargers a 24-0 lead with 7:12 left in the half.

Samuel picked Lawrence on the next drive, but the Chargers' offense was unable to capitalize. They quickly got the ball back after the ensuing punt hit the Jaguars' Chris Claybooks in the helmet and the Chargers recovered the ball at the Jacksonville six-yard line. That led to a 23-yard field goal by Dicker to increase the lead to 27-0.

Herbert completed 15 of 24 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown in the half. Ekeler ran for 35 yards and two scores on eight carries. Keenan Allen had four catches for 44 yards to lead the Chargers, who are without top wide receiver Mike Williams after he suffered a fracture in his back during the team's regular-season finale.

Lawrence finally got the Jaguars on the board late in the second, finding Evan Engram for a nine-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 27-7. Lawrence completed just 10 of 24 passes for 77 yards in the first half as the Jaguars mustered just 107 yards of total offense.

The Chargers, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2018, won four straight games after a 6-6 start to finish 10-7 and take the AFC's first wild card spot.  The Jaguars, after going 3-14 last season, closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak to win the AFC South title at 9-8 and secure the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

Jacksonville last made the playoffs during the 2017 season when they advanced to the AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars are hosting just the fifth playoff game in franchise history, and first in 23 seasons. They have gone 3-1 in previous home playoff games.

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