INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Jerry Tillery didn’t exactly endear himself to Los Angeles Chargers fans during his four seasons with the team.
The bad blood now extends to some of his former teammates after Tillery, now in his second year with the Las Vegas Raiders, was ejected for a late hit on Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert during the Raiders' 24-17 loss on Sunday.
“It was definitely a cheap shot,” Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. said. “Jerry played with us and he knows how we feel about Justin. I feel like it was personal.”
Tillery, a teammate of Herbert's for three seasons, delivered a forearm shot to the quarterback’s upper body after Herbert had stepped out of bounds at the end of a 3-yard scramble in the second quarter.
“It was dumb, especially when we put our bodies on the line,” Chargers defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day said. “Everyone, especially him, knows how dangerous this game is.”
Raiders coach Josh McDaniels did not offer an assessment of whether he felt Tillery’s hit crossed a line.
“All I saw was what I saw in real time,” McDaniels said. “I didn’t think he hit him in the head, but I don’t know that.”
But it was apparent some of Tillery’s Raiders teammates were not pleased. Star defensive end Maxx Crosby was visibly frustrated, and a replay from the television broadcast appeared to show him apologizing to Herbert.
“Football is an emotional game. Got a lot of respect for Jerry as a former teammate. It’s unfortunate,” Herbert said.
“I understand the situation. I was trying to get out of bounds,” Herbert added.
Herbert threw a touchdown pass to put the Chargers ahead 17-7 three plays after Tillery's penalty, which was one of several self-inflicted mistakes for the Raiders (1-3).
Las Vegas had nine penalties for 80 yards.
Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who made his first career start after Jimmy Garoppolo did not clear the concussion protocol, lost two strip-sacks in the second quarter, leading to Chargers touchdowns. O'Connell threw an interception with 2:33 remaining while trying to drive the Raiders for the tying score.
“I felt like a lot of stuff was on us,” running back Josh Jacobs said. “A lot of stuff we did, we did to ourselves, so until we willing to look in the mirror and be willing to correct those things, it’s gonna keep happening.”
Tillery's hit on Herbert was the latest instance of questionable sportsmanship involving the five-year pro.
Tillery apologized for kicking a USC player in the helmet and stomping on the foot of another while playing at Notre Dame during a blowout loss to the Trojans in 2016.
A first-round draft pick by the Chargers in 2019, Tillery’s time in Los Angeles ended when he was waived midway through the 2022 season. He had 10 1/2 sacks in 54 games with the Chargers and was called for 19 penalties in that span.
Tillery signed with the Raiders and played the final eight games of the season, but his time with his new team was best remembered for a costly dead-ball penalty in a 17-16 loss at the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tillery knocked the ball away from then-Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield after he had been sacked on first down, and the penalty helped lead to Mayfield's game-winning, last-second touchdown pass.
The Raiders lost four of their final five games to fall out of playoff contention.
“The big penalties, they’re big for a reason. They hurt you,” McDaniels said. “But those, I mean, they’re obviously killers so the best thing we can do is coach the right technique and fundamentals. And when each man is faced with one of those situations in a game, they got to try to make a good decision for the team.”