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Under siege Justin Herbert breaks finger in Chargers’ loss to Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert walks on the sidelines with his injured hand in his hoodie pocket during the second half of his team's loss to Denver.Ryan Sun/Associated Press

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert fractured the index finger on his right hand in the second quarter of Los Angeles’s 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Coach Brandon Staley said the team will do more tests before determining how long Herbert will be out. It is a short week for the 5-8 Chargers, who are at Las Vegas on Thursday night.

Herbert had a fracture on the middle finger of his left non-throwing hand earlier this season.

Easton Stick had played two NFL snaps in five seasons with Los Angeles before he replaced the franchise quarterback with 1:52 remaining in the first half.

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Herbert was 9 of 17 for 96 yards with an interception before being injured, apparently while he was taken down awkwardly by Denver’s Zach Allen after throwing a pass. Herbert had been sacked four times and hit six during the Chargers’ first six possessions, with his teammates repeatedly missing their blocks against Denver’s pass rushers.

Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, has been famously durable in his career. He signed a $252.5 million, five-year extension during the offseason.

Jefferson sent to hospital

Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson was taken to a hospital after being hit in the chest during his team’s 3-0 victory over the Raiders in Las Vegas, according to Fox Sports.

The team announced Jefferson was ruled out for the rest of the game after the 2022 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year took a shot from safety Marcus Epps while going high to catch a 15-yard pass. There was no flag for hitting a defenseless receiver.

This was Jefferson’s first game back after missing the previous seven games because of a hamstring injury.

Jefferson made some team history before going out. He caught a 12-yard pass that moved him past Randy Moss for the most receiving yards by a Vikings player in his first four seasons. Moss had 5,396 yards from 1998-2001, and Jefferson is at 5,423.

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Also Sunday, Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter. Jacobs was held to 34 yards after he had rushed for more than 100 in two of his previous three games.

Lawrence plays, but Jags err

Jacksonville’s most famous ankle looked fine. Too many other things about the Jaguars were broken Sunday.

Trevor Lawrence threw three interceptions, offsetting his three touchdown passes while playing with a high right ankle sprain, and the Jaguars were doomed by several other mistakes in a 31-27 loss at the Cleveland Browns.

While showing no effects from a gruesome ankle injury Monday night — one that would have sidelined most players for a week or two or longer — Lawrence played but wasn’t as sharp as usual as the Jaguars (8-5) lost their first road game this season.

“Not one of our cleaner games,” Lawrence said. “Just too many mistakes, penalties, missed opportunities, missed throws, drops. We were so inconsistent, and it was hard to get into a rhythm. Really just shot ourselves in the foot over and over.”

Lawrence, listed as questionable coming in, finished 28 of 50 for 257 yards. His first interception was an overthrow that cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. hauled in like he was the intended receiver. Lawrence had another long ball that was picked off by Greg Newsome II, and Emerson got him again late in the first half as the Jaguars were driving and down just 14-7.

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Lawrence said the first pick was his fault but didn’t want to discuss the other two.

“It’s on all of us,” he said. “We have to take accountability and fix it. Starts with me.”

Along with Lawrence’s ankle escaping further damage, the Jaguars’ hopes of winning the AFC South remained untouched. Jacksonville still leads the division by one game over Indianapolis (7-6) and Houston (7-6), which both also lost.

Victorious Garrett rips refs

Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett called a penalty on the officiating crew after the Browns beat Jacksonville, saying its performance was “a travesty.”

“It was honestly awful,” the two-time All-Pro said. “And the fact that they’re letting them get away with hands to the face, holding, false-starting. I know they called a couple, but damn, they could have called it all game.”

Garrett said his shoulder looked like it was “scratched by a couple of wild feral cats” from dealing with Jacksonville’s offensive line.

His comments came one week after Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt was highly critical of officials for letting offensive linemen get away with what he thought was too much following a game against Arizona.

“Respect to those guys, it’s a hard job,” Garrett said. “But hell, we have a hard job as well. You can’t make it harder by throwing holding and hands to the face out the rulebook.

“I got a lot of respect for those guys, but we get scrutinized for the plays that we don’t make. So, someone has to hold them accountable for the plays or the calls they don’t make.”

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Colts crumble

The Indianapolis Colts had managed to get into playoff contention without their starting quarterback and star running back, but their four-game winning streak ended as they were routed by Cincinnati, 34-14.

“I wish I had an answer for you,” coach Shane Steichen said. “I really do.”

The Colts were humming along with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, who had engineered wins over four struggling teams: Carolina, New England, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee. But against the suddenly resurgent Bengals, Minshew and the Colts (7-6) made too many mistakes to keep it going.

“A lot of self-inflicted stuff happened out there,” Steichen said. “We had a drive going, and a penalty moves us back. We have another drive going, and another penalty moves us back. We have a holding call. A lot of stuff.”

Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5, and 2021 rushing champion Jonathan Taylor has missed five of 12 games with ankle and thumb injuries.

Minshew, a backup for most of his career, was 26 of 39 for 240 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Indy was penalized nine times for 66 yards and was held to 46 yards rushing.

“We’ve been doing some good things, and today we just couldn’t figure it out,” said Zack Moss, who carried the ball 13 times for 28 yards.

No Alexander for Packers

Green Bay cornerback Jaire Alexander will miss a fifth consecutive game when the Packers visit the New York Giants on Monday night. The Packers (6-6) said Alexander wouldn’t play against the Giants (4-8) due to a shoulder injury. Green Bay already had ruled out wide receiver Christian Watson with a hamstring injury. Watson had scored four touchdowns during the Packers’ three-game winning streak . . . Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Frank Wycheck, who threw the lateral that started the “Music City Miracle,” launching the Tennessee Titans’ run to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl appearance in January 2000, died at his Chattanooga home. The cause was an apparent fall where he hit his head Saturday morning, according to a statement from his family. The 11-year pro, inducted into Tennessee’s Ring of Honor in 2013, was 52. Wycheck finished his career with 505 receptions, 5,126 yards, and 28 touchdowns over 155 games, but is best known for the Miracle, which ranked fourth among the NFL’s greatest plays when the league celebrated its first 100 years in 2019. Lorenzo Neal caught a kickoff and handed off to Wycheck, and he threw the ball across the field — Buffalo fans still insist the throw was a forward pass — to Kevin Dyson, who sped 75 yards for the winning touchdown in the final seconds of a stunning 22-16 comeback victory over the Bills on Jan. 8, 2000. Tennessee then won at Indianapolis and Jacksonville for its lone AFC title, but came up short on the final play in losing Super Bowl 34 to the then-St. Louis Rams in Atlanta.

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