Takeaways From Chargers' 25-24 Week 12 Win Over Cardinals


The Chargers defeated the Cardinals 25-24 in Week 12 at State Farm Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from the Chargers' sixth victory of the season:

Brandon Staley goes for the win in crunch time

With 1:48 left, the Chargers marched down the field on a seven-play, 38-yard drive that ended with an Austin Ekeler touchdown. That set the Chargers up to kick point after attempt and presumably go to overtime, or try and win it by converting a two-point conversion.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley choose to keep his offense out there and go for the win. Justin Herbert dropped back and hit Gerald Everett across the middle to go up 25-24 with 15 seconds left.

"I think all the guys on offense wanted to be out there for that play," Herbert said of the two-point conversion. "We knew that we had a good play, the right guys on the field, and the offensive line did a great job protecting me, [giving] enough time to get the ball off and Gerald made a nice catch on the play."

Following the Chargers' come-from-behind win, Staley said he already had his mind made up that they would go for the two-point try earlier on the final drive before Ekeler's touchdown.

"When we made a couple first downs and the clock was winding we kind of said, 'hey, under 40 seconds that's going to be our mindset.'" Staley said of the thought process of going for the win following the final drive.

Chargers hammered by the run early, but rebounded late

The Chargers entered Sunday's game having allowed over 150 rushing yards in each of their last four games. Against Arizona, the results were quite similar.

Cardinals running back James Conner totaled 120 rushing yards on 25 attempts, setting season-highs. Collectively, the Cardinals recorded 181 yards on the ground.

After being gashes early on, allowing 110 rushing yards in the first half, the Chargers showed progress as the game went on. The Cardinals had four possessions in the fourth quarter, three of which the Chargers forced a three-and-out.

"I thought we played a quality second half," Staley said of the defense. "Although the first half was up and down, I thought our guys played rugged and tough."

Derwin James forces two takeaways

Derwin James was all over the field, impacting the game in more ways than one.

The Chargers' All-Pro defender was responsible for two takeaways, ripping the ball out to force a fumble and securing an interception – both coming in the first half.

James also logged eight tackles and one pass breakup.

"I thought Derwin, with the two takeaways, was just fantastic," Staley said. "We were plus two today in the takeaway margin and I thought our defense made enough winning plays for us to win the game."

During portions of the game, the Chargers deployed James man-to-man on DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals' top pass-catcher. On fourth-and-one, James was assigned to cover Hopkins when he picked off Kyler Murray's pass.

"He's a playmaker. He's a special guy, a great leader in our locker room and to have a guy like that on our team is a huge favor to us," Herbert said of James. "He works as hard as anyone. He does everything the right way and not surprised at all by how much success he's having too."

Justin Herbert was brilliant against the Cardinals

The Chargers didn’t play the most complete game, but Justin Herbert kept them in it all throughout, and in the end, that was the difference maker.

Herbert finished the game completing 35-of-47 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns to snap the Chargers' two-game losing streak. Herbert also put together his biggest rushing output of the season, running for a season-high 38 yards.

"There was a lot of pressure in that second half and he always keeps poise and never loses his belief," Staley said of Herbert. "I thought he made a lot of winning plays on that two-minute drive, just a lot of big plays."

The Chargers final drive, which started with 1:48 to go, featured Herbert completing 7-of-8 passes for a touchdown, paired with a successful two-point conversion that ultimately led the team to victory.

"When you really needed him in the clutch, he delivered," Staley said. "What I told the team was the two weeks prior, a two-minute drive, it didn't go down for him. That's what it's like when you're a quarterback in the NFL, you're not going to make every two-minute drive. But the thing he has going for him is that our entire organization believes he's going to make it, so he brought us back."

Playoff hopes still alive

The Chargers' come from behind win keeps them in the thick of the playoff mix with six games left.

Now at 6-5, the Chargers currently sit as the ninth seed in the AFC playoff picture. They hold the same record as the Patriots, who are one spot ahead of them in the seeding based on New England holding the tiebreaker.

The Bengals and Jets, two teams who hold Wild Card spots, each are 7-4, just one game ahead of the Chargers.

Up next the Chargers will travel to Las Vegas in Week 13 to face a Raiders team who's won back-to-back games. In order for the Chargers to make the playoffs, it will likely take 10 wins, meaning they need to win four of the next six games to get in.

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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