Justin Herbert leads 15-point fourth-quarter comeback, nearly drags LA Chargers to NFL Playoffs
You just have to shake your head and smile. The arm talent Justin Herbert possesses is that ridiculous.
Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, facing a “win and you’re in” situation on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders in Sunday night’s regular-season finale, were looking at a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit. And then Herbert embarked on one of the most remarkable and ridiculous comeback attempts we’ve seen all season.
The score sitting at 29-14, the clock at 4:35, and the ball 21 yards behind the sticks and 23 yards from the goal line, Herbert faced fourth down. Make or break. And he pulled this out of the bag.
Holy shit Justin Herbert pic.twitter.com/bFs7yCAlBl
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) January 10, 2022
That’s 35 yards on an absolute rope. No dip. No arc. Just a straight-line bullet from the budding star to six points. The Chargers elected to go for two on the first score rather than saving it for later, and Herbert kept the play alive, working all the way from one side of the field back to the other, then delivering another bullet to his tailback as he was being tackled. A one-score game.
Seven. Point. Game. #BoltUp
— NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2022
The Chargers forced a Raider punt on the ensuing possession and got the ball back with 2:05 to play, down seven. Facing fourth-and-10, Herbert converted again.
HERBERT TO ALLEN ON 4TH AND 10. #BoltUp
— NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2022
Fifteen plays later, Herbert again found the end zone, this time for the tie.
Herbert is the one. pic.twitter.com/01ercCL13C
— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) January 10, 2022
The snap came with five seconds on the clock. The throw found wideout Mike Williams for the tying score as the clock hit triple zeros. The drive spanned 19 plays (all passes) and covered 83 yards. Herbert faced certain doom an unofficial 36 times on the possession and still dragged the listless Chargers to the end zone.
The end zone angle of Herbert’s throw is spectacular. “Magic” gets tossed around too often as a descriptor in the realm of sports; and yet this felt like a magician just finding a way to make it work.
— FanSided (@FanSided) January 10, 2022
The Chargers would lose in overtime, ending their season at 9-8, as the defense was simply unable to slow or stop the Raiders’ rushing attack. Las Vegas got a field goal on the opening possession of overtime, Herbert drove his team down for a tying-three points once again—and once again converting a crucial fourth down—but the Raiders’ run game salted away the clock on the next drive and they kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
It feels appropriate, though, to say Herbert didn’t lose, his team just couldn’t get the win. If NC State can claim a 10th win for a game it didn’t play in, Herbert should get to claim a 10th win here for a game he did everything possible to come out of victorious.
The second-year quarterback was absolutely unreal down the stretch. Facing an unrelenting pass rush and throwing to an exhausted set of wideouts, Herbert still went for 383 yards and three touchdowns. He was also 6-for-6 passing for 106 yards and a score on fourth downs alone.
His end-of-the-year line: 5,014 passing yards, 41 total touchdowns (38 passing), 15 interceptions, 66% completion rate.
During his sophomore campaign, Herbert set the NFL record for passing yards by a quarterback in his first two seasons, the all-time NFL record for passing touchdowns in a quarterback’s first two seasons, the all-time Chargers record for passing yards in a season, and the all-time Chargers record for passing touchdowns in a season.
In hitting 5,000 yards, he became just the fourth player in NFL history to do so before turning 25 years old. The other three quarterbacks: Dan Marino, Matthew Stafford, and Patrick Mahomes.
Herbert looks poised for a long and wonderful career. At this pace, he could be one of the best in franchise history and maybe more.