Justin Herbert leads Chargers to overtime win over Raiders

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hands the ball off to running back Kalen Ballage.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hands the ball off to running back Kalen Ballage during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday in Las Vegas.
(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)

Justin Herbert’s growth as an NFL quarterback reached a point Thursday where he led the Chargers on a game-winning, game-ending drive for the second time in five days.

And this is team that, before Sunday, had lost 16 of 19 one-score decisions, dating to a time before Herbert was a Charger.

The rookie scored the final touchdown on a one-yard lunge for a 30-27 overtime victory over Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium.


Asked about his young teammate afterward, veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said, “I’m excited to see him every week, just like ya’ll.”

Five days earlier, Herbert orchestrated a 20-17 victory over Atlanta at home with his first career fourth-quarter game-winning drive.

This time, he took things a step further, into overtime. Herbert also rallied the Chargers using inexperienced receivers Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson and K.J. Hill.

Justin Herbert’s performance in the Chargers’ overtime victory over the Raiders confirmed he is their franchise quarterback, their identity, their future, writes Helene Elliott.

Dec. 18, 2020

All three emerged on a night when Keenan Allen was limited by a hamstring injury and Mike Williams was hampered by a back problem.

“He’s doing it with young receivers on the field, spreading the ball [around],” coach Anthony Lynn said. “He’s doing everything he has to do to keep plays alive.”


And keep his team breathing. Although mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Chargers have won two in a row to improve to 5-9. They also ended a nine-game losing streak in the AFC West.

Herbert completed 22 of 32 for 314 yards, with scoring throws to Johnson and tight end Hunter Henry. He set up his deciding touchdown with a 53-yard completion to Guyton, who had four catches for a team-high 91 yards.

With 27 touchdown passes, Herbert tied Baker Mayfield’s NFL season record for a rookie. He also set a league rookie mark with his seventh 300-yard passing game.

Jalen Guyton played a big part in the Chargers’ win against the Raiders, showcasing the critical roles young receivers are undertaking for the team.

Dec. 18, 2020

Herbert on Thursday also topped the quarterback he has described as a mentor, Marcus Mariota.

The Raiders lost quarterback Derek Carr to a groin injury late in the first quarter. He was replaced by Mariota, making the remainder of the night a matchup of former Oregon quarterbacks.

“Pretty crazy experience,” Herbert said. “I grew up watching Marcus. He was my favorite player . … Just to see him out on the field, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.”

The Raiders received the kickoff to start overtime, and Mariota directed a 14-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson.

Herbert came right back and whisked the Chargers to victory. The final possession was aided by a pass-interference penalty right before Herbert connected deep to Guyton.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert scores the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders.
(Jeff Bottari / Associated Press)

The Chargers then needed four plays — one of which was wiped out by a Raiders penalty — to secure the win.

Herbert fumbled into the end zone on the play before he scored, but the ball was recovered by fullback Gabe Nabers. By rule, it was spotted where Herbert fumbled, at the Las Vegas one. Then Herbert tried again and was stopped but extended the ball with both hands across the goal line.

The Chargers played overtime without star defensive end Joey Bosa, who was in the locker room being evaluated for a concussion. They also lost linebacker Kyzir White, who was unable to finish the game.

With the score 24-24, the Chargers had two chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but kicker Michael Badgley missed field-goal attempts from 47 and 51 yards, both wide left.

Badgley has missed 12 kicks — nine field goals, three extra points — the most in the NFL. He had the game-winner Sunday over the Falcons, a 43-yarder on the final play.

“I would love to know what’s going on in his head right now,” Lynn said. “I thought he got his swag back. I thought he was over the hump. He didn’t kick well today. It’s just that simple. And we’re in a dome.”

A look at the Chargers’ 30-27 overtime win over the Las Vegas Raiders by the numbers.

Dec. 17, 2020

After the Raiders tied the score 17-17 midway through the third quarter, the Chargers took a 24-17 lead with a 12-play, 75-yard drive. Kalen Ballage scored from a yard out.

Mariota, who rushed for 88 yards and passed for 226, then answered Herbert’s effort with a touchdown drive of his own to make it 24-24. The Raiders used 19 plays and nearly 11 minutes to go 75 yards. Mariota ran two yards and leaped into the end zone for the score.

From there, both teams had chances to win in regulation but couldn’t convert. The Chargers turned back one promising Las Vegas drive when Harris intercepted Mariota in the final two minutes and returned it 51 yards.

“Guys are tired of losing close games,” Lynn said. “They want to win some of these. Guys are fighting, and they’re executing in the end. That’s what we have to do.”