Justin Herbert continues his amazing rookie season by leading Chargers past Raiders in OT

Frank Schwab
·3-min read

Cincinnati Bengals. Washington. Detroit Lions. New York Giants. Miami Dolphins.

Those are the five teams that passed on Justin Herbert in the past NFL draft. Even with the Bengals and Dolphins having their own promising rookie quarterbacks, all five of those teams might have regrets.

Herbert has been one of the best highlights of the NFL season, and on Thursday night he led a game-winning drive in overtime to beat the Las Vegas Raiders. A deep pass to Jalen Guyton for 53 yards set up Herbert’s 1-yard touchdown run for the 30-27 win in a thriller.

The sixth pick of the draft for the Los Angeles Chargers, Herbert is the favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and looks like he’s going to be one of the NFL’s best QBs for years to come. He was poised in overtime when the Chargers needed a touchdown to win.

Anthony Lynn is probably going to get fired (unless Herbert saves him, that is). If that happens, the Chargers will be an incredibly exciting opening for every top coaching candidate on the market. Offensive minds will line up to coach the Chargers’ rookie and the talented roster around him.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Justin Herbert shines for Chargers

Herbert is succeeding in spite of the Chargers. Lynn started Tyrod Taylor this season until Taylor was injured by a wayward painkilling shot in the preparation for Week 2, forcing the Chargers to turn to Herbert. Even after watching him, Lynn insisted Taylor was his starter. Finally he had to give that up and commit to a quarterback who would go on to have one of the best rookie seasons any quarterback has ever had.

Even with Herbert playing well, the Chargers run the ball way too much on first and second down. Their mismanagement costs them many games and has been a running punch line. On Thursday, a weird play call on third-and-2 late in regulation led to a sack and the 8 lost yards were a factor in Michael Badgley missing a field goal. Yet, Herbert has stood out, to say the least.

Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota had a great night in relief of injured Derek Carr, and he led a drive in overtime that ended with a field goal. After that, the Chargers needed a touchdown to win.

Most of the time you wouldn’t trust a rookie quarterback in that spot, but Herbert is special.

Chargers win it in overtime

Herbert was fantastic Thursday. The Raiders’ defense is so bad they fired their defensive coordinator a few hours after a loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14, but it’s still an NFL defense and you have to execute. Herbert looked like a longtime veteran. He made some great throws at the end of the first half, leading a touchdown drive to give Los Angeles a 17-10 lead into halftime. The 26-yard touchdown throw to Tyron Johnson tied Baker Mayfield’s rookie record for touchdown passes in a season. Herbert finished with 314 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

In overtime, Herbert’s deep pass to Guyton and some Raiders penalties gave the Chargers a chance to win. He lunged into the end zone for the game-winning sneak, one play after he got lucky that his fumble at the goal line was recovered by the Chargers.

Herbert gives the Chargers a chance to be competitive for a while. He’ll be under his rookie deal for a few more years. The Chargers should get a great new coach, if they decide to make a change.

Not many teams passed on Herbert, but all of them have to be wondering if they made the wrong call.

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