It was the same ending for the Los Angeles Chargers -- another loss -- this one 29-21 to the Miami Dolphins. But there was no wait-till-the-last play of the game drama, as was the case the two previous losses to Las Vegas and Denver, as the Chargers were behind the Dolphins throughout in falling to 2-7 on the season.
While this was technically another one-score loss for the Chargers, their seventh of the season, the Dolphins were comfortably ahead from the moment they converted a blocked punt into a touchdown after the Chargers' initial drive. That said, their seven one-score losses in the first nine games is tied with the 2015 Baltimore Ravens, 1983 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 1944 Brooklyn Tigers for most in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It was far from quarterback Justin Herbert's best game. In fact, it was the rookie's worst.
Herbert had just 187 yards on 20-of-32 passing -- 77 yards fewer than his previous lowest output, which was a 264-yard performance against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5.
So much for the rookie quarterback battle.
Tua Tagovailoa was convincingly better for the Dolphins, completing 15-of-25 for 169 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Herbert made a few great decisions (running into the end zone from 1-yard out for the Chargers' first touchdown) and a made a few nice throws.
He threw two touchdown passes, a 2-yarder to Hunter Henry in the third quarter and a 13-yarder to Keenan Allen late in the fourth quarter, but it was the interception at the start of the fourth quarter -- an errant toss intended for Mike Williams but grabbed by Xavien Howard, who ran 28 yards it to the Chargers 32 -- which sealed his team’s fate. The Dolphins scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Durham Smythe, putting them up 26-14 and placing the game out of reach.
Ballage continues to get heavy work: Kalen Ballage, who was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round in 2018, further established himself as the Chargers' running back of record by rushing for 68 yards on 18 carries and hauling in five receptions for 34 yards. This is the second straight week Ballage, who was activated from the practice squad before Week 9, has shouldered the load at running back. Expect that to continue, as starting running back Austin Ekeler -- who was injured in Week 4 -- is still a few weeks away from returning.
QB breakdown: Herbert's emotion from having his worst game as a Charger was written all over his face, as he sat on the bench as the game wound down. Even though he became the first rookie in NFL history to record multiple passing touchdowns in six straight games, he looked sullen and traumatized.
Long trip back: No doubt the 2,400-mile flight home will be a quiet one for the Chargers, who next play the winless New York Jets at SoFi Stadium.