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Justin Herbert makes history in Chargers’ 37-21 defeat of the New York Giants

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Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws a sidearm pass during a second-half drive.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a sidearm pass during a second-half drive against the New York Giants at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Ahead of Thursday’s showdown with the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs, Justin Herbert made quarterback history in the Chargers’ 37-21 win over the New York Giants.

Chargers extend lead as high as 30, Herbert makes history

Justin Herbert hit Jared Cook for a one-yard touchdown to give the Chargers a 37-7 lead, their largest of the season.

Herbert is 23 for 31 for 275 and three touchdowns. The Chargers also have rushed for 149 yards, their fourth-best effort of the season.

With his throw to Cook, Herbert became the first player to have 30 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons.

The Giants added two late touchdowns to account for the final score. Mike Glennon capped a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive with an 18-yard pass to Saquon Barkley with 4:33 remaining. Glennon then ran it in for seven yards on the Giants’ subsequent drive.

Chargers 37, Giants 21 FINAL

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Chargers take care of Giants with bigger game ahead Thursday against Chiefs

Chargers defensive tackle Justin Jones celebrates after stopping New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
Chargers defensive tackle Justin Jones (93) celebrates after stopping New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) for a loss on third down in the second quarter.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Given the opportunity to look past the New York Giants, the Chargers instead rolled through them.

Now, they can do what everyone else already was doing before Sunday: They can focus on Kansas City.

“It’s gonna be a great ballgame,” coach Brandon Staley said. “It’s gonna be great for the NFL. We got to get right to work.”

Right to work because the Chiefs will be at SoFi Stadium on Thursday for a Week 15 meeting that will be for first place in the AFC West.

Both division rivals were heavy favorites Sunday and neither hiccuped. The Chargers opened a 37-7 lead over the Giants before winning 37-21. Kansas City pounded Las Vegas 48-9.

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The story of the Chargers’ 37-21 win over the Giants in six highlights

1. Austin Ekeler punched it in from the one to give the Chargers a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

2. Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph pulled in a 60-yarder on third-and-10 to set up.....

3. ....the Giants’ first touchdown, a three-yard pass from Mike Glennon to fullback Eli Penny that tied the game 7-7.

4. Justin Herbert and Joshua Palmer gave the Chargers the lead back when they hooked up on this 12-yard pass play.

5. On third-and-11 with less than half a minute on the second quarter, Justin Herbert did a very Justin Herbert thing.

6. As seen from a second camera angle.

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Dustin Hopkins’ third field goal gives the Chargers a 30-7 lead

Dustin Hopkins’ 28-yard field goal to open the second half gave the Chargers a 27-7 lead.

The Chargers went 67 yards in 10 plays to score at the 9:36 mark of the third quarter.

On the Chargers’ following drive Hopkins added another field goal, this one from 43 yards, to boost the lead to 30-7.

The kick came after New York attempted a fake punt but failed when the pass fell incomplete.

During the possession, the Chargers lost running back Austin Ekeler, who limped off the field after being tackled on a three-yard gain.

He had his left ankle re-taped on the sideline.

Justin Herbert is closing in on another 300-yard game. He is 20 for 27 for 263 yards.

Chargers 30, Giants 7 5:05 left in third quarter

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The story of the first half of Chargers-Giants in five highlights

1. Austin Ekeler punches it in from the one to give the Chargers a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter:

2. Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph pulls in a 60-yarder on third-and-10 to set up.....

3. ....the Giants’ first touchdown, a three-yard pass from Mike Glennon to fullback Eli Penny.

4. Justin Herbert and Joshua Palmer gave the Chargers the lead back when they hooked up on this 12-yard pass play.

5. On third-and-11 with less than half a minute on the second quarter, Justin Herbert did a very Justin Herbert thing.

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Justin Herbert. That’s the headline.

With pressure closing in, Justin Herbert passed 59 yards to Jalen Guyton for a touchdown with 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

The play, coming on third-and-11, gave the Chargers a 24-7 halftime lead over the New York Giants.

Guyton split the defense through the middle of the field and caught Herbert’s throw in stride.

Herbert is 16 for 22 for 204 yards and two touchdowns. He has a rating of 131.6.

Guyton has three receptions for 87 yards.

Joshua Palmer has the other touchdown catch filing in for Keenan Allen, the Chargers’ leading receiver who remains on the COVID-19 reserve list.

The Chargers have limited the Giants to six first downs and 145 total yards.

Chargers 24, Giants 7 Halftime

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Chargers extend lead to double digits with third straight scoring drive

Dustin Hopkins kicked a 27-yard field goal to put the Chargers up 17-7 with 4:15 left before halftime.

The Chargers had lined up to go for it on fourth-and-one immediately before the field goal, but the play was blown dead because of a false start on left guard Matt Feiler.

The Chargers have dominated possession, opening an advantage of nearly 10 minutes. They have 16 first downs to the Giants’ five.

Chargers 17, Giants 7 4:15 left in second quarter

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Chargers second straight nine-play, 60-yard drive gives L.A. lead back

Justin Herbert hit Josh Palmer for a 12-yard touchdown to put the Chargers back on top of the Giants 14-7.

It was the rookie wide receiver’s second career touchdown catch.

The connection capped another nine-play, 60-yard drive after Graham Gano’s kickoff went out of bounds, setting up the Chargers at their own 40-yard line.

Herbert is eight for 10 for 71 yards to open the game. Austin Ekeler has 51 yards on seven carries.

Chargers 14, Giants 7 12:07 left in second quarter

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Giants answer Chargers with TD drive of their own to tie game

After Austin Ekeler gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead with a one-yard rushing TD, the Giants tied the score on a three-yard touchdown pass from Mike Glennon to fullback Eli Penny.

Glennon and tight end Kyle Rudolph hooked up for a 60-yard completion on third-and-10 to set up the tying score.

The touchdown was the first for the Giants since the third quarter of a 13-7 victory over Philadelphia in Week 12.

Chargers 7, Giants 7 1:29 left in first quarter

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Chargers drive 60 yards in nine plays to take early 7-0 lead

The Chargers took an early 7-0 lead on a one-yard run by Austin Ekeler.

Ekeler’s score—his 16th touchdown on the season—completed a nine-play, 60-yard drive that included seven consecutive running plays.

On the two passing plays, Justin Herbert threw to Mike Williams for five yards and Jalen Guyton for 11 yards.

Ekeler has 33 yards on five carries to open the game.

Chargers 7, Giants 0 4:44 left in first quarter

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Chargers vs. Giants matchups, start time and how to watch

Breaking down how the Chargers (7-5) and the New York Giants (4-8) match up heading into their game at 1:05 p.m. PST on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. The game will be shown on Fox.

When Chargers have the ball: Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi called New York’s defensive front “heavy and violent and hard to move.” He praised the Giants for their strength inside and up the middle and for the varied looks they feature. All of this suggests the Chargers might have to rely on the arm of their quarterback. Fortunately for Lombardi, he has Justin Herbert in that position. Herbert is coming off a performance that earned him the AFC’s offensive player of the week honor.

In a 41-22 victory over Cincinnati, Herbert threw for 317 yards and had three completions of at least 40 yards. Statistically, New York is a middle-of-pack defense against the pass. “Whatever you see on film, if an idea pops into your mind, it’s, ‘Hey, we can do it,’” Lombardi said of the possibilities of this offense. “There are no limitations with the receivers and the quarterback.” Except no Keenan Allen this week (COVID). Only Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor has scored more touchdowns this season than the Chargers’ Austin Ekeler. Two more scoring receptions would give Ekeler nine, tying the NFL’s all-time single-season mark for a running back.

“When you’ve got a guy that’s playing as hot as J. Herb and the protection our O-line gives us ... it’s like, ‘Well, we can run, but our pass looks pretty good too,’” Ekeler said. “So, yeah, we mix it up. We always have an emphasis [on running the ball]. But I mean, in reality, it’s like, ‘OK, we need to run the ball when it’s time to run the ball, otherwise we’re probably throwing it.’”

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Derwin James joins list of inactive Chargers against the Giants

The Chargers’ Derwin James Jr. is out today against the New York Giants because of a hamstring injury.

The safety practiced all week before appearing on the injury report Saturday.

James leads the Chargers with 100 tackles. He also has three forced fumbles, two interceptions and two sacks. Coach Brandon Staley recently called James “the central figure in our defense.”

The Chargers’ other inactives Sunday are cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion), safety Alohi Gilman (quadriceps), quarterback Easton Stick, running back Larry Rountree III and defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko.

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Chargers facing mind games against Giants with Chiefs on the horizon

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert spikes the football after his two-point conversation catch against the Bengals.
(Zach Bolinger / Associated Press)

Their best wide receiver completed a pass to their starting quarterback, the role reversal representing the kind of joyous moment not seen in Chargers football in years.

Justin Herbert punctuated the play with a spike as massive as the celebration that had just erupted among those in Cincinnati wrapped in powder blue and white.

“What that does for your team … go see the reaction of Justin, his teammates and our sideline,” coach Brandon Staley said. “I like that, and it’s part of the fun of the game.”

The trick play — now known throughout the sport as “Philly Special” — highlighted the Chargers’ Week 13 victory, a 41-22 win over the surging Bengals, who also are scrambling for a postseason berth.

Now, Week 14 arrives for the Chargers with a game equally important but against an opponent going nowhere — yet still armed with the opportunity to spoil all the recent fun.

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Chargers’ Keenan Allen won’t play vs. Giants; Mike Williams, Chris Harris Jr. should

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen looks for a call from the referee against the Denver Broncos on Nov. 28.
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

The Chargers will be without leading receiver Keenan Allen on Sunday.

Coach Brandon Staley confirmed Friday that Allen will be unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19 this week.

He said wide receiver Mike Williams and cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who were both close contacts to Allen, should be able to play — barring any setbacks — when the Chargers host the New York Giants at 1 p.m. at SoFi Stadium.

Staley said Williams and Harris both have tested negative throughout the week.

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Derwin James questionable for Chargers vs. Giants because of hamstring issue

Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. celebrates against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 5.
(Zach Bolinger / Associated Press)

The Chargers added Derwin James Jr. to their injury report Saturday and designated him as questionable for their game Sunday against the New York Giants.

The star safety is dealing with a hamstring issue, according to the team. After two injury-altered years, James has started all 12 games and played 98% of the Chargers’ defensive snaps this season.

His loss would be a significant one, even against a New York offense that has struggled to score and will be starting backup quarterback Mike Glennon.

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