INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert faked a handoff, rolled to his right, put his feet down, then sent a pass sailing through the night air.
Herbert’s 55-yard laser from a throw landed in the wide receiver’s outstretched arms mike williamsto cheers all over SoFi Stadium.
The assist came in the third quarter and was part of a six-game drive that culminated in a field goal to help the Bolts secure a 23-17 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, keeping LA hopes alive for their first playoff berth in four seasons.
But for Herbert, the deep completion meant more than another scoring play, as he passed former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck for the most passing yards in the first three seasons. a quarterback in the NFL.
“I have tremendous respect for Andrew Luck,” Herbert said. “For him as a football player, as a person, as a teammate – I think it’s just cool to be in the same conversation as him.”
Herbert had 13,056 passing yards in 44 starts. Luck had 12,957 passing yards in his first three seasons, followed by Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, who had 12,287 in his first three seasons.
wide receiver Keenan Allen caught 240 passes for 2,530 yards in nearly three seasons with Herbert.
“He’s getting better, he’s just getting started,” Allen said. “He’s about to blow this league up.”
Against the Dolphins, Herbert completed 39 of 51 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown for the Bolts (7-6).
“As a quarterback, selfishly, I would love to throw the ball,” Herbert said when asked about the passing-heavy game plan. “I wish we could throw it all away. I think it’s just kind of a game plan that we went with. We knew it was going to be that type of game.”
It was Herbert’s 21st career game with 300+ passing yards, two more than any other player in his first three seasons, including Luck.
“He played with a lot of energy tonight which really affected his teammates in a positive way,” coach Brandon Staley said. “He made a lot of winning plays, very good decisions throughout the game.”
Sunday night was the first time this season that Herbert had both Allen and Williams available throughout a game. Entering Sunday, Allen and Williams had played just 5.7% of the Bolts’ 811 snaps together due to injuries.
Williams returned from a high ankle sprain that had limited him to just six snaps since Week 7. He caught six passes for 116 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown that Herbert fired that forced the The 6-foot-4 Williams jumped high to make the catch before making sure both toes tapped inbounds, despite his momentum carrying him to the back of the end zone.
“I just knew Mike was going to be able to come up and get it,” Herbert said. “He’s done such an incredible job of putting his feet in the box.”
“I felt pretty good, I just wanted to be available the whole game,” Williams said. “I felt comfortable. At the end it was a little tight, but I was still able to play and move.”
Allen caught 12 passes for 92 yards, marking his 10th career game with at least 12 receptions — the most in NFL history.
Herbert completed a pass to nine different players for the fourth time this season.
“That’s the attack we like to play, where people touch the ball,” Staley said. “I think we handled the football pretty well. Like I said, Justin was fantastic in his decision-making tonight.”
Defensively, despite playing without safety Derwin James Jr.., defensive lineman Sebastien Joseph-Day and cornerback Bryce Callahanthe Bolts’ limited quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to 145 passing yards and a touchdown, as the third-year quarterback completed just 10 of 28 attempts for a career-low 36% completion percentage.
“The game plan was simple”, cornerback Michael Davis said. “We were playing fast and loose.”
With the win, the Chargers’ odds of earning a playoff berth jump from 60% to 79%, according to ESPN analysis. The Bolts are currently the No. 7 seed in the AFC, tied with the New York Jets (7-6), but with a better conference record.