Justin Herbert did everything he could to help the Los Angeles Chargers snap a losing streak and post his first NFL win Monday night.
The rookie quarterback threw a career-high four touchdown passes. His last scoring pass was a big-time 64-yard strike for a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. He also drove the Chargers down the field and put them in position to kick a game-winning field goal with less than one minute remaining in the fourth quarter.
But these are the Chargers, who cannot get out of their own way and have struggled to win close games. They blew a 17-point lead for the second consecutive week, missed the game-winning field goal as time expired in regulation and lost 30-27 in overtime to the New Orleans Saints.
“Losing’s tough. It always is,” Herbert told reporters after the game. “I know we’re really close. I know if we keep working hard and doing the right things, good things will happen. I love the way this team battles.”
Herbert’s first three touchdown passes of 17, 4 and 3 yards powered the Chargers to a 20-3 lead in the second quarter. His fourth scoring was a 64-yard pass to Mike Williams that gave the Chargers a 27-20 lead with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Herbert, who completed 20-of-34 passes for 264 yards with no interceptions in the game, has now thrown seven touchdown passes in his last two games and nine scoring passes this season.
“I thought he executed. Made some good plays,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters after the game. “But we didn’t win the game, so I’m not excited about complimenting anybody, to be honest. But I thought the kid did some good things.”
The Saints’ tied the game 27-27 with a touchdown, and Herbert and the Chargers had another opportunity with 52 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. After completing three short passes, Herbert found Williams for a spectacular 29-yard completion on the left sideline down to the Saints’ 32. The completion set up a 50-yard field goal attempt by Michael Badgley, and his kick sent the football to eventually clanged off the right upright and fell backwards onto the field. No good.
The loss was the Chargers’ fourth consecutive setback, all with Herbert as the starter. The Chargers losses have all been one-possession games, and the average margin of losses is 4.5 points.
The Chargers suffered a 23-20 overtime loss to Kansas City in Week 2, Herbert’s first start as a pro. They lost 21-16 to Carolina and a 31-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“We’ve got to learn (how) to finish games,” Herbert told reporters after the game. “It comes down to execution.”
— Geoffrey C. Arnold | @geoffreyCarnold