Pro Bowler Reacts to Ending ‘Tough’ First Matchup With 2 Rams All-Pros

Justin Herbert Jalen Ramsey

Getty Justin Herbert and Jalen Ramsey shake hands after the Rams' 31-10 loss on January 1, 2023.

As decorated Justin Herbert has become in the NFL in just three seasons, the 2021 Pro Bowler had never faced a challenge like the one he faced before the battle of L.A. with the Los Angeles Rams on New Year’s Day.

The Los Angeles Chargers quarterback facing not one, but two All-Pro, Super Bowl winning defenders in Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey.

Herbert and his Chargers still got the better end of the All-L.A. showcase at SoFi Stadium — rolling to the 31-10 romp. As one-sided as the game looked, the 6-foot-6 signal-caller still let it be known that there was nothing easy about enduring his first game against “B Wagz” and Ramsey.

“They’re tough to play against,” Herbert said to the L.A. media after the game.

Even though the Chargers — through head coach and former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley — run a defense that mirrors the Rams’ system, this was still a week when Herbert admitted that he and the Bolts had to do more than rely on the scout players who mimicked Wagner and Ramsey during practices leading to the game.

“So we’ve had to watch a lot of film on those guys to have our best week,” Herbert said.

How the Rams Fared Versus Herbert

On the flip side, the Rams had never faced Herbert even in the 2021 and 2022 preseason against the Chargers — as the Bolts opted to rest him in the August games.

The final results facing the sixth overall pick of the 2020 draft: Herbert going 21-of-28 passing for 212 yards, two touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Fortunately for the Rams, Herbert’s yardage mark ends up being his second fewest this season…next to the 196 he was held to against the San Francisco 49ers on November 13.

But, his completion percentage of 75 is now his fourth-best mark this season. His offensive line also bottled a Rams pass rush that delivered six sacks versus the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day to zero versus the Bolts’ protection. Herbert even escaped from a potential turnover on a Ramsey cornerback blitz during the second quarter which saw Herbert lose the football on Ramsey’s swipe for it. The fumble, though, was overturned and called a forward incomplete pass.

While Herbert had to raise his study habits another level facing a decorated linebacker in Wagner, he flamed a throw toward Wagner’s direction inside the red zone…which resulted in Herbert’s first touchdown pass of the day:

Herbert’s second TD pass, also coming inside the 20, saw him attack the side of safety Taylor Rapp and away from Ramsey:

And, that uncanny one-handed grab by Mike Williams? Herbert went opposite of Ramsey there as well — targeting Troy Hill instead.

While Herbert and the Bolts won in one-sided fashion over two potential future Hall of Famers, the rising star gave his respect to both Wagner and Ramsey.

“They’re two of the best in the game and to go up against those guys is always a great opportunity. I’ve got so much respect for them as defenders, as teammates and as people,” Herbert said.

Wagner Shares Strong Words on Defensive Performance

On the Rams’ side, Wagner shared a blunt review of the defensive performance facing their L.A. neighbor.

“We didn’t do a good job of stopping the run. We came in and they knew they’re going to pass the ball. But they were able to run the ball,” Wagner said to reporters. “We’ve just got to do better.”

Wagner and the Rams for the first time in 2022 witnessed someone cross the 100-yard mark against them, as Austin Ekeler stormed his way to 122 yards on just 10 carries and his 72-yard scamper into the end zone.

Wagner said the Chargers didn’t do anything to confuse the Rams with the run either.

“They were just making plays,” Wagner said while also adding that Ekeler played like the back “we anticipated.”

But following the loss that now drops the Rams to 5-11 (the most losses now for a defending Super Bowl champ in NFL history), Wagner succinctly detailed the next step after the Chargers’ game.

“Watch the film and get ready for one more,” he said.

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