INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP)Leading up to Sunday night, Brandon Staley was looking for his Los Angeles Chargers to have a game where they could put all three phases together.
Justin Herbert was hoping for a performance where he didn’t spend five minutes discussing the broken middle finger on his non-throwing hand.
Both can say they reached their goals as the Chargers routed the Chicago Bears 30-13 in front of a prime-time audience.
“I think so,” Staley said when asked if this was his team’s most complete performance of the season. “I thought that’s we were in search of was to feel that complete game where you’re feeding off each other and the levels are high the whole way.”
Herbert – who passed for 298 yards and three touchdowns – directed the Chargers (3-4) to points on their first five drives, marking the first time in six seasons they have accomplished that feat.
Herbert, who had struggled with accuracy the past two games after breaking the middle finger of his left hand four weeks ago, completed his first 15 passes and was 31 of 40.
“I think just every week, it’s getting better,” said Herbert, who didn’t wear a glove on his left hand and just went with the finger heavily bandaged for the first time. “I thought we had a great plan. We went out there and executed exactly what we were going to do. I’m not surprised that we had great success moving the ball early.”
It was the first time in two years that Herbert passed for three TDs in the first half, finding Austin Ekeler, Simi Fehoko and Donald Parham to help stake the Chargers to a 24-7 lead at the break.
The Chargers looked like they were going to be in for another long night on defense when Chicago’s Tyson Bagent connected with Darnell Mooney for a 41-yard completion down the right sideline on the first play. That would be the only play though the Chargers allowed of at least 20 yards.
Derwin James and Ja’Sir Taylor gave Los Angeles their first game with two interceptions this season. The defense also came up with three fourth-down stops.
“I think we did a good job of stopping the run first and the defensive backs did a really good job of taking the ball away. I think it was just a solid game all around,” said linebacker Joey Bosa, who had a sack.
On special teams, Cameron Dicker had his second game this season with three field goals, with two coming in the second half.
Bagent had a more difficult time in his second NFL start. The undrafted rookie was 25 of 37 for 232 yards with two interceptions.
He did have a 1-yard sneak late in the fourth quarter to get the Bears within 30-13. Bagent’s 2-point pass attempt was incomplete.
“I feel like there were a lot of plays where I’m getting through my reads and making correct throws, and then I think there are a couple where … I did maybe force the issue a bit, so got to do a better job of that going forward,” Bagent said.
The Bears still haven’t won consecutive games since the last two weeks of the 2021 season.
“The glaring things that stood out to me, and what my message was at halftime for the players, was we had a lot of penalties on offense that set us back. And then on defense, it was really, simply about fundamentals. That was where they got their opportunities,” coach Matt Eberflus said.
Austin Ekeler finished with 123 scrimmage yards, including seven receptions for 94 yards.
Los Angeles scored on its opening drive for the fourth time this season when Ekeler took Herbert’s screen pass down the left sideline for 39 yards. That made Ekeler the first running back in the Super Bowl era to reach 30 TD catches with the same team and the seventh player in NFL history to have 30 touchdowns rushing and 30 receiving.
“You don’t really know how the chips are gonna fall when the game starts going, you go with the flow, and tonight the ball was coming my way,” Ekeler said.
With 1:47 remaining in the first half, Darrynton Evans took Bagent’s toss and went 11 yards to get the Bears (2-6) within 17-7.
However, the Chargers regained momentum before halftime with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, culminating in Parham’s 11-yard score, where he broke a couple tackles before getting over the goal line.
“I thought we really fed off each other today. We gave up the touchdown drive, we kind of finished the two minute before the half with a big-time score,” Staley said. “It was just kind of a surgical drive. Justin was just accurate the whole way down there. So 24-7 was a lot better than 17-7.”
Bears: LB Tremaine Edwards went down with a knee injury during the third quarter and did not return.
Chargers: TE Gerald Everett was declared inactive after suffering a hip injury during the third quarter of last weekend’s game at Kansas City.
Bears: At New Orleans next Sunday.
Chargers: Travel to the New York Jets next Monday night.
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