The Los Angeles Chargers will try to avoid a third consecutive loss when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in Tampa, Florida, with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert facing one of the NFL’s best defenses.
The Buccaneers (2-1) are fourth in total defense and tied for third in quarterback sacks with 12, including 11 in their last two games.
“We built this team on defense,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “Tom Brady was just the icing on the cake.”
The Chargers (1-2) have lost both of Herbert’s starts after Tyrod Taylor quarterbacked them to a season-opening 16-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 13.
Taylor has been sidelined since then following a pregame injection Sept. 20 intended to numb fractured ribs sustained in the opener which inadvertently punctured a lung.
Herbert is seeking to become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards in each of his first three games. He threw for 330 yards in last Sunday’s 21-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers to join Cam Newton and Kyler Murray as the only quarterbacks to throw for more than 300 yards in each of their first two games.
Brady will be facing the Chargers in an official game for the 12th time in his illustrious career, the first as a Buccaneer. Brady was 9-2 against the Chargers with the New England Patriots in regular-season and playoff games, passing for an average of 298.5 yards per game.
The Chargers are sixth in total offense and eighth in total defense, the NFL’s only team inside the top 10 in both categories. (The Arizona Cardinals are seventh in total defense and 10th in total offense.)
Tampa Bay is 25th in total offense.
The teams have one common opponent, the Carolina Panthers, who lost the Buccaneers, 31-17, on Sept. 20.
The Chargers are guaranteed of having a non-winning record through four games for the sixth consecutive season. They have only qualified for the playoffs once during that span.
The Chargers’ 8-3 record against Tampa Bay for a .727 winning percentage is their best against any team. They are 5-1 in Tampa.
The Chargers won the first six games of the series, including a 23-0 victory Sept. 19, 1976 in the Buccaneers’ first home opener, and a 17-13 win Oct. 11, 1987 in a replacement game during the National Football League Players Association strike.
The Buccaneers have won the last two games, including a 28-21 victory in the most recent meeting, Dec. 4, 2016.