The Chargers had a big opportunity to solidify their position in the AFC playoff race with a victory over the Texans.
Los Angeles wasn’t able to get it done.
Though both teams had several key players miss the game on the COVID-19 list, Houston was able to overcome the losses and came away with a 34-23 victory.
With star edge rusher Joey Bosa, defensive lineman Justin Jones, and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell all among the players on the COVID-19 list, the Chargers had a lot of trouble slowing down the Texans on offense. Quarterback Davis Mills was 21-of-27 passing for 254 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
But running back Rex Burkhead was the star of the show, rushing for 149 yards and a pair of TDs.
While the Chargers had a 12-7 lead in the second quarter after Justin Jackson’s 17-yard touchdown, the Texans kept control of the game from there. They took a 17-12 halftime lead on Mills’ 41-yard touchdown to receiver Chris Conley. And Burkhead took in his second touchdown with 13:37 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 24-15.
Receiver Nico Collins effectively iced the game with a 13-yard touchdown from Mills — Colins’ first score of his young career. But then Tavierre Thomas added an exclamation point with a pick-six off Justin Herbert with just 1:49 left in the contest.
Herbert threw a cosmetic touchdown to receiver Joshua Palmer with 34 seconds left. But by that point, the game had been decided.
Herbert finished 27-of-35 passing for 336 yards with a touchdown and two picks. Filling in for Austin Ekeler, who is on the COVID-19 list, Justin Jackson had 11 carries for 64 yards with a pair of touchdowns along with eight catches for 98 yards.
Now at 8-7, the Chargers will host the Broncos for what should be another important late-season matchup. But suffering a defeat to a previously three-win team will sting.
Houston will continue to try and play spoiler against San Francisco in Week 17.