They called it “wack,” “inexcusable” and “stupid.”
At least a couple of them called it something that can’t be repeated here, other than to underline the fact that the Chargers were not pleased with Jerry Tillery’s late hit on Justin Herbert.
Tillery, a former Chargers first-round draft pick and current Las Vegas defensive tackle, drilled Herbert when the quarterback was out of bounds after a scramble midway through the second quarter.
“This is a violent game and everyone puts their bodies on the line every day to go out and perform,” Chargers defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said. “Why do something that stupid? That was cheap.”
Tillery was called for a 15-yard penalty and ejected. The Chargers scored to go up 17-7 three plays later when Herbert passed seven yards to Keenan Allen.
After being taken 28th overall in 2019, Tillery’s time with the Chargers was marked by inconsistent play and questionable on-field judgment, his frequent penalties a detriment.
The Chargers finally waived him in November of 2022 and the Raiders claimed him.
“He knows how we feel about Justin…” cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. said. “I don’t really appreciate what he did there. And he played here. So that made it more, I feel like, personal.”
After the hit along the Chargers’ sideline, Herbert’s teammates quickly encircled Tillery to support their quarterback. The situation was defused without further incident.
Herbert later called Tillery “a good friend” and “a great teammate.” He said he harbored no hard feelings over the hit.
“That’s just an inexcusable play,” Chargers right tackle Trey Pipkins III said. “Obviously, you gotta stand up for your quarterback when something like that happens. … He’s got to figure it out for himself, I guess, what the right and wrong thing to do is.”
Coach Brandon Staley said he more than appreciated the way the rest of the Chargers responded.
“I love all that,” he said. “I’m here for all of that. I love when my team looks like that. That’s their quarterback. That’s a sign of a good team. That was an igniter for us.
“Justin looks at us and just gives us a wink because that hit doesn’t hurt Justin Herbert. It helped fuel our guys. Our guys were up for the challenge. They were going to go defend their guy.”
Herbert was asked afterward about his head coach’s winking comment.
“I don’t remember doing that,” he said. “I don’t think so. I’m not one to wink, so I don’t think that was me.”
Other takeaways from the victory: