The Broncos and Chargers played an ugly Monday night game that had a fitting overtime end.
Los Angeles got a 19-16 victory with Dustin Hopkins‘ 39-yard field goal that went through the uprights with just 2:38 left in the extra frame.
But the Chargers only had that opportunity because of a muffed punt.
Rookie Montrell Washington muffed the return in overtime when he had one of his teammates stand right in front of him and start blocking an L.A. player just before the ball was to land in his arms. Chargers defensive back Deane Leonard came up with the loose ball at the Denver 28, and the game was all but over.
Hopkins was out last week with a quad injury and was announced as questionable to return in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. But he pulled through with four field goals from then on to the end of the game, hitting from 37, 31, 35, and 39 yards.
With the game tied at 13, L.A. faced fourth-and-2 to open the fourth quarter at Denver’s 29-yard line and unsurprisingly elected to go for it. But receiver DeAndre Carter was well covered and the pass fell incomplete.
With 10:41 left in the final period, the Chargers got the ball back looking to go on a go-ahead drive. But on the first play, Herbert threw an interception deep in his own territory that led to Denver taking a lead. Herbert was looking for tight end Gerald Everett over the middle when the pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Baron Browning. While Browning fumbled and the ball was loose, Denver recovered it for an extra possession.
A couple of plays later on third-and-6, quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked for a 4-yard loss leading the club to settle for a 48-yard field goal.
The Chargers had a chance for response points but a holding call in the red zone put them behind the chains. Hopkins’ 35-yard field goal was good to tie the game at 16. with 3:58 left in the fourth quarter.
A costly protection error cost the Broncos a shot at keeping a drive going toward the end of regulation. On third-and-6 from the Denver 43 with 2:39 left, linebacker Drue Tranquill came up the middle of the line unblocked and sacked Wilson for a 9-yard loss.
The punt set the Chargers up at their own 25-yard line with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get out of their own territory, sending the game to overtime.
After the teams traded punts a couple of times, Washington made the fateful muff.
Via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry, Herbert’s 57 passes were the most in a victory without a touchdown in NFL history, according to Elias. Running back Austin Ekeler scored Los Angeles’ only touchdown on a 6-yard run in the second quarter.
The Broncos held a 10-0 lead after the first frame, having scored on their first two possessions. Brandon McManus hit a 51-yard field goal to open the scoring. Then Wilson connected with rookie tight end Greg Dulcich for a 39-yard touchdown on just the second catch of Dulcich’s career.
But the Broncos could never mount another serious threat to reach the end zone. The closest the club came was the Chargers’ 9-yard line at the end of the first half, when a McManus field goal went through the uprights to give Denver a 13-10 lead. From the third quarter on, the closest the Broncos got was the Chargers’ 30-yard line.
Wilson finished the game 15-of-28 passing for 188 yards with a touchdown and 23 yards rushing. With his four sacks, the Broncos had -9 net passing yards in the second half and overtime.
The 4-2 Chargers will stay home to host the 3-3 Seahawks next Sunday.
The 2-4 Broncos will be back in Denver to host the 4-2 Jets.