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Rookie quarterback sneaks in for game-winning touchdown to inflict blow on Raiders' play-off hopes

Justin Herbert scored at the end of overtime to secure the win for the Chargers.

Justin Herbert scoring for the Chargers.
Justin Herbert scoring for the Chargers.
Image: David Becker

ROOKIE QUARTERBACK JUSTIN Herbert sneaked into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in overtime as the banged-up Los Angeles Chargers beat Las Vegas 30-27, dealing a crushing blow to the Raiders’ slim playoff hopes.

The 22-year-old Herbert set the stage for the winning touchdown with a 53-yard strike to receiver Jalen Guyton, who was stopped at the Raiders’ two-yard line.

After fumbling the ball on the previous play, Herbert then capped the game-winning drive by leaping over a pile of players — the ball just barely breaking the plane of the goal line with 89 seconds left in overtime.

“I was in,” Herbert said to his teammates as he sat on the grass in the end zone while the officials huddled to determine whether the ball had crossed the goal line at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Herbert completed 22 of 32 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns, equalling Baker Mayfield’s NFL rookie record of 27 touchdown passes in the 2018 season.

“I am living the dream,” said Herbert. “This is the coolest moment of my life to be out here fighting with these guys. It doesn’t get much better.”

Herbert said he was hoping to get a second chance at running the ball in for the score after making the fumble.

“We didn’t get it that one time but I was glad they came back to me and I could get it in the next time.”

The Chargers improved to 5-9 and while they are out of playoff contention, they played the role of spoilers on Thursday.

Las Vegas fell to 7-7 and could ill afford another loss like this one as their playoff chances suffered a severe blow.

“We are a resilient team,” said Herbert. “It got hectic down there at the end zone but we just wanted to gain yards. That is all we needed.”

This was the Raiders’ fourth loss in five games and to make matters worse, starting quarterback Derek Carr went down with a left groin injury suffered on a scramble late in the first quarter. He did not return.

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They turned to high-priced backup Marcus Mariota who completed 17 of 28 passes for 226 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Mariota, who also rushed for 88 yards, was the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL entry draft by Tennessee.

Guyton had four catches for 91 yards and Hunter Henry and Tyron Johnson each had touchdown catches for the Chargers.

The Chargers were missing key players including wide receiver Mike Williams with a back injury. Their No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen has a hamstring injury and caught just one pass in limited playing time.

“The receivers stepped up big and gave the team what they could,” Herbert said.

Las Vegas narrowly defeated the Chargers 31-26 in their first meeting on November 8 in south Los Angeles and this game was just as tight.

The winning touchdown came after Daniel Carlson had put Las Vegas ahead with a 23-yard field goal with 3:18 left.

Earlier in the week, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden sacked defence coach Paul Guenther and replaced him with Rod Marinelli after the Las Vegas defence had given up 200 yards rushing in consecutive games.

© – AFP, 2020

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