Travon Walker blunder or Justin Herbert flop? Flag gives Chargers pivotal first down

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) is hit by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) during the second of an NFL wild-card football game, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) is hit by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) in the second half of Saturday night's wild-card playoff game. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The Los Angeles Chargers were drowning for much of the second half of Saturday's wild-card game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after entering halftime with a massive lead. They got a life preserver at a pivotal moment early in the fourth quarter.

The Chargers saw a 27-0 lead narrow to 30-20 by the start of the final quarter. After a Jaguars touchdown, they were an empty drive from things getting very uncomfortable.

On second-and-6 at the Chargers' 37-yard line, it looked like that drive would fizzle when pass rushers Folorunso Fatukasi and Travon Walker got home for a sack to set up third-and-13.

And then Walker did something very foolish. Or Herbert did something very smart.

It seems inarguable that Walker pushed Herbert. Whether or not Herbert needed to go down as hard as he did, in front of the official, well that's up to you. Either way, the end result was a fresh set of downs for a team that desperately needed points or to at least burn some clock.

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Fortunately for Walker, Los Angeles kicker Cameron Dicker finished the drive by missing a 40-yard field goal wide left to keep the deficit at 10 points. The Chargers did succeed in burning an additional five minutes off the clock with what turned out to be a 14-play drive, though.

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Even more fortunately for Walker, the Chargers' long drive only succeeded in lengthening their collapse. A last-second field goal gave the Jaguars a 31-30 comeback win for the ages.