Justin Herbert shows off talent in surprise start as Chargers fall to Chiefs in OT

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Chargers played the franchise’s first game at SoFi Stadium on Sunday — and it wasn’t even their most notable debut of the day.

Rookie Justin Herbert was a late replacement at quarterback and produced several highlights, a pair of touchdowns and more than 300 yards passing against Kansas City.

But the Chargers couldn’t hold on to an eight-point fourth-quarter lead, eventually falling to the reigning Super Bowl champions and their own young star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, 23-20, in overtime.

The deciding points didn’t come easily. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker had to hit his second 58-yard field goal of the game to seal it.

Herbert replaced Tyrod Taylor, who was late coming out of the locker room before the game. The Chargers then announced that Taylor was questionable because of a chest injury. He later was ruled out.

Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, completed 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score.

The Chargers got the ball first in overtime but failed to pick up a first down. Facing fourth-and-one at their own 34-yard line, coach Anthony Lynn decided against going for it and instead punting back to Kansas City’s potent offense.

The Chiefs converted a third and a fourth down — at the Chargers’ 46-yard line — on their final drive.

The Chargers took the lead on a 17-play, 82-yard drive that consumed more than 10 minutes of the fourth quarter — but netted only a field goal.

Their edge was 20-17 when Mahomes got the ball back at the Kansas City 25-yard line with 2:20 to go.

The Chiefs converted a pair of third downs, including a third-and-20 when Mahomes scrambled for 21, but also were flagged for two crucial holding calls. They finally settled on a tying 30-yard field goal from Butker as time expired in regulation.

Trailing 17-9 entering the fourth quarter, the Chiefs promptly pulled even when Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for a 54-yard touchdown and Mecole Hardman for the two-point conversion.

That score was set up by the first interception of Herbert’s career, a play that resulted from a poor decision.

On second-and-two at the Chiefs 39-yard line, Herbert had room to scramble for the first down. Instead he stopped and lofted the ball over the middle for Keenan Allen. The pass was picked off by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed.

Thrust into a sudden starting role, Herbert immediately led the Chargers on an eight-play, 79-yard scoring drive. He ran four yards for the touchdown to cap the first series of his NFL career.

Herbert completed two of four passes for 51 yards during the possession.

The series represented a stunning departure from a week earlier, when the Chargers’ offense appeared clunky throughout a 16-13 victory at Cincinnati. The Chargers didn’t reach the end zone in that game until their 10th possession.

The Chiefs pulled to within 7-6 midway through the second quarter when Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for a 10-yard touchdown.

After a holding penalty on the extra point pushed the attempt back, Jerry Tillery blocked Butker’s try to keep the Chargers in front.

Herbert and the offense extended the edge to 14-6 with an 11-play, 71-yard drive that ended just before the two-minute warning.

Herbert finished the series with the first touchdown pass of his career, connecting with Jalen Guyton on third-and-goal from the 14-yard line. The play also marked Guyton’s first career touchdown reception.

With that pass, Herbert became the first player to run and throw for a touchdown in the first half of his NFL debut since Bob Clatterbuck of the New York Giants in 1954.

Taylor warmed up before the game, directing the first-time offense. The Chargers won the coin toss and elected to receive. Only then, when the offense took the field for the first time, was it known that Taylor was out.

He practiced all week leading up to Sunday but did appear briefly on the injury report Friday, Taylor being listed as dealing with a rib problem. After he participated fully in that workout, he was removed from the injury report.


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