INGLEWOOD, Calif. — For all the impressive milestones Justin Herbert had piled up early in the season, they weren't resulting in wins for the Los Angeles Chargers. Now, they are.
Herbert, the former University of Oregon standout who was the MVP of the 2020 Rose Bowl, has led the Chargers on winning drives in three straight games while continuing to rewrite the rookie quarterback record book.
Herbert set the mark for most rookie touchdown passes in a season in the Chargers' 19-16 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. His decisive drives have come either in the last two minutes or in overtime.
"There's a way to do it and a way not to do it. We experienced that the first half of the season but we got better from it," said Herbert, who was 21 of 33 passes for 253 yards. "That's one of the best things to see. You have to be tough. It's about how you react."
After Brandon McManus tied it at 16 with 2:47 remaining with a 52-yard field goal, the Chargers (6-9) took over at their 25 and were in the red zone in three plays. Austin Ekeler had 34 of his 45 rushing yards on two carries and Herbert connected with Jalen Guyton for a 23-yard reception to the Denver 41 at the two-minute warning.
Four plays later, Michael Badgley split the uprights from 37 yards with 41 seconds remaining for the winning points and Los Angeles' first three-game winning streak in two years.
Herbert's 9-yard screen pass to Ekeler in the second quarter was his 28th touchdown throw of the season, surpassing the 27 that Baker Mayfield had for Cleveland in 2018.
"I am glad we have the young man. He works his tail off. I give him all the credit in the world," coach Anthony Lynn said.
Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the April draft and third QB taken, also became the fourth player to throw for over 4,000 yards as a rookie, joining Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
He also needs six completions to surpass the 379 that Carson Wentz had for Philadelphia in 2016.
Denver (5-10) trailed 16-3 early in the fourth quarter but tied it with scores on three straight possessions.
McManus was good from 50 yards to bring the Broncos within 10. After the Chargers went three-and-out, Drew Lock scored on a 1-yard keeper for Denver's first rushing touchdown in seven games.
And after Badgley's late field goal, the Broncos got to midfield. But Lock's desperation pass on the final play was intercepted by Mike Williams near the goal line.
Lock completed 24 of 47 passes for 264 yards. Melvin Gordon, who spent five seasons with the Chargers before signing with Denver in the offseason, had 79 yards rushing on 16 carries.