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Chargers seek to end double-digit first-quarter deficits

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CORRECTS DATE TO SUNDAY NOV. 6 INSTEAD OF TUESDAY, DEC. 6 — Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) stretches before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dill Butch)

PA

Brandon Staley knows the Los Angeles Chargers defied the odds when it came to rebounding from deep first-quarter deficits.

He hopes the focus on avoiding slow starts will help turn things around for his team.

The Chargers (5-3) come into Sunday night’s game in San Francisco trying to avoid becoming the first team to trail by 10 or more points after 15 minutes for the fifth straight game.

The Bolts’ streak reached four games last week when they scouted Atlanta for a 10-0 lead before rallying for a 20-17 victory. They joined the Denver Broncos (combined in the 1962-63 seasons) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1988 with a four-game streak.

Los Angeles has won three of its four games despite early deficits. The Chargers joined the Dallas Cowboys (2020), New Orleans Saints (2009), Seattle Seahawks (1997) and Philadelphia Eagles (1988) in winning three games in one season while they were down 10 or more in the second quarter.

“I know that double-digit trailing record and we’re like 3-1 when you should be like 0-4,” Staley said. “I know we look like we’re comfortable being down 10-0 or 14-0, but we know you can’t live like that.”

The Chargers entered this season 12-77 in their history as they trailed in double digits late in the first quarter. Since the merger, teams have only won 17.5% of the time when they were in double digits after the first quarter.

There are commonalities where the Chargers fell behind early and were outscored 51-3 in their last four opening quarters.

In their first quarters this season, the Chargers gave up at least 38 yards in three of the games, including two touchdowns. They were 0 for 2 on fourth conversions and saw teams turn that into scores on their ensuing possession.

Los Angeles’ offense has traditionally not gotten off to a quick start under Justin Herbert. He scored a first-quarter touchdown in 18 of his first 32 starts, but only once this season. It was in Week 4 in Houston.

“It’s up to us to make the most of those possessions when we get them, so getting a first down and just rolling is always something you can do better. You’re always trying to get downfield and score, so it’s just execution and for us to be better,” Herbert said.

The Chargers also realize they can’t fall behind at the start of the next two games. After facing the 49ers, Los Angeles welcomes Kansas City.

The three trailing wins after the first quarter came against teams with losing records – Cleveland, Denver and Atlanta.

The loss came to Seattle (6-3) and was one of the Chargers’ worst games this season.

Staley said he made some adjustments for training this week, including upping the pace during team drills at the start of sessions. He also hinted that he was more aggressive in play calls earlier in games.

“Hopefully we can start faster. I know that hasn’t happened in the last four games, and I think our guys know, ‘Hey, we hurt each other, and why is that? happened? I think it comes down to the execution at the start of the game,” he said.

NOTES: Cameron Dicker will be called up from the practice squad to kick Sunday for the second straight week as Dustin Hopkins (hamstrings) and Taylor Bertolet (quads) stay out. … WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) did not practice. Staley said he could practice this week. … DT Breiden Fehoko was signed to the practice squad after Austin Johnson entered injured reserve. Johnson broke his knee in the win over Atlanta.

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This story was originally published November 9, 2022 7:26 p.m.