GREEN BAY, Wis. — For all the things that went wrong Sunday, the Chargers still had a chance in the game’s final seconds — a chance that slipped through the hands of rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston.
“I should have caught it,” Johnston said. “I feel like the outcome of the game would have been different if I had caught it. There ain’t really no excuse for it. I should have caught the ball.”
Facing third and six at his 30-yard line, quarterback Justin Herbert fired a ball down the left sideline toward Johnston, who had beaten Green Bay cornerback Carrington Valentine.
The pass hit Johnston’s hands, but he was unable to secure it with 23 seconds left.
The Chargers were trailing 23-20, and the telecast showed Johnston’s feet — at the moment he dropped the ball — straddling the Packers’ 36-yard line, the exact spot where Fox had inserted the imaginary line to show the limit of kicker Cameron Dicker’s range.
The moment was bitter and fitting for what has been an underwhelming season for the player the Chargers picked No. 21 overall.
Johnston had his first career touchdown catch against Detroit in Week 10 but entered Sunday with only 18 receptions for 162 yards. He had two catches against the Packers for 21 yards.
His production has gone up slightly — not significantly — since the Chargers have been without injured wide receivers Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer.
After the game, Johnston assured that his confidence remains sound. He said he talked to Herbert following the play.
“I just apologized to him,” Johnston said. “It’s not like I can rewind and re-catch the ball. I just told him I’ll be there for the next one.”