Chargers coach Brandon Staley isn't changing his ways: He says he will continue to go for it on fourth down, even after three out of Los Angeles' five attempts Thursday night failed in a 34-28 overtime defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I felt really comfortable with all those decisions," Staley said after the loss, which dropped the Chargers two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West standings with three to play. "That's the way we're going to play around here. That's the way we're going to play. When we have a quarterback like ours, and we have an offense like ours, that's the way we're going to play because that's how you need to play against Kansas City, for sure. That's how we're going to become the team that we're ultimately capable of being, by playing that way."
The Chargers entered the game 13 for 21 on fourth downs this season, giving them the fourth-most conversions in the league. Their conversion percentage (61.9) was tied for eighth best in the NFL.
Two of Los Angeles' failed attempts to convert came inside the Kansas City 5, and another was on the edge of field goal range. The Chargers became the first team to fail twice on fourth-and-goal in a first half since the 1984 Chargers did the same -- also against the Chiefs -- 37 years ago to the day (Dec. 16, 1984).
Quarterback Justin Herbert said he stands by his coach and his decisions on fourth down.
"It's always tough and you'd love to be able to convert those," Herbert said. "I think we need to be better on third downs so that we're not in those situations, but we believe in each other. We believe in the guys in that locker room and that huddle, and we believe in the defense. I think that's a statement of trusting everyone on the field and off the field, as well. We love to be put in those situations. Unfortunately, we didn't convert as many as we would've liked to have today, but we're going to ride with each other and we're going to be right back."
With Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill on the other sideline, Staley and his coaching staff realized no lead would be safe until the clock ran out. That's why they never stopped trying to score in all situations: Only the very last of the Chargers' 10 drives ended in a punt.
"It's life in the NFL, in decision-making like that. ... I know that the quickest way to win a game like that is to score touchdowns, not field goals, especially considering who's on the other side," Staley said. "When you don't feel like it's a gamble, when you feel like this is an advantage for you, then that's going to be our mindset. And I don't think that any decision that we made tonight, that I made tonight, was a gamble. We felt like it was an advantage situation for us, and that's why we did it.''
Herbert and his teammates came agonizingly close to proving Staley correct.
Donald Parham seriously injured himself while coming down just out of bounds with a catch in the back of the end zone on the Chargers' failed fourth down from the Kansas City 5 on the game's opening drive.
Four drives later on the final snap of the first half, Herbert was in the shotgun on fourth down from the Kansas City 1 -- but Daniel Sorensen got his hand on a quick out to Keenan Allen, wiping out a potential TD pass and leaving the Chargers' halftime lead at only 14-10 despite 208 yards of offense on five solid drives.
The Chargers' only drive of the third quarter ended at the Kansas City 28 when Herbert and Jared Cook couldn't connect on a fourth-and-2 pass. Cook also dropped a probable touchdown pass on second down during that final drive before halftime.
After Thursday's game, the Chargers have now gone for it on fourth down 29.9% of the time this season. That's the highest rate for any team since the 2007 Jacksonville Jaguars (30.0%).
"We felt like it was an advantage situation for us," Staley explained. "That's why we did it. If we didn't feel like that was the case, then we would have kicked a field goal or we would have punted. That's the way that we're going to do things around here. I know that our team embraces that mindset. We're going to continue to do it every game we play moving forward."
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.