Surprise starter Justin Herbert has Chargers leading Chiefs at halftime

USA TODAY Sports

Justin Herbert was a surprise starter Sunday.

Chargers starter Tyrod Taylor injured his chest during pregame warmups, allowing Herbert to make his NFL debut. The first-round rookie could have had an easier opponent to start his career than the defending Super Bowl champions.

But Herbert is more than holding his own, with the Chargers leading Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs 14-6 at halftime. It’s the first time the Chiefs are trailing at intermission in their past 15 games.

Herbert scored his first touchdown on a 4-yard run on the Chargers’ first possession, with Los Angeles going 79 yards in eight plays. He threw his first touchdown pass with 2:30 left in the first half on a 14-yard pass to Jalen Guyton on third down.

The Chargers will stay in Herbert’s hands for the second half, with the team having ruled out Taylor. The Chargers originally listed Taylor as questionable to return, and he may lose his job if the first half is any indication of Herbert’s readiness for the NFL.

Herbert finished the first half 12-of-19 for 167 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Allen has four catches for 53 yards.

The Chiefs punted on their first three possessions, with each drive lasting only four plays. Kansas City then scored with 8:51 remaining in the second quarter on a 10-yard pass from Mahomes to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker had his extra point blocked by Jerry Tillery after a 10-yard holding penalty on James Winchester pushed back the Chiefs.

The Chargers led 7-6 at that point.

Mahomes has not taken a sack, but he has taken three hard hits.

Mahomes is only 8-of-19 for 60 yards and a touchdown. He has targeted Tyreek Hill four times, but the speedster does not have a catch. Kelce has four catches for 35 yards and the team’s only touchdown.

The Chiefs are down to three healthy cornerbacks with Antonio Hamilton questionable to return with a groin injury.