Chargers' field goal seals win over Broncos

By Jeff Miller
Los Angeles Times/TNS

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Los Angeles Chargers finished their home schedule Sunday by avoiding another blown lead, and this time, rescuing away a victory.

Michael Badgley’s 37-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining was the difference in a 19-16 victory over Denver.

The win was the Chargers’ third straight as they improved to 6-9. They also moved ahead of Denver (5-10) in the battle to not finish last in the AFC West.

The Chargers had leads of 13-0 at halftime and 16-3 in the fourth quarterback before the offense dried up and the defense was unable to hold back the Broncos.

But after Brandon McManus tied the score 16-16 with a 52-yard field with 2:42 remaining, the Chargers marched back down to retake the lead. The game-winner was Badgley’s fourth field goal of the afternoon.

The result was sealed on the game’s final play, when wide receiver Mike Williams, deployed as a defensive back, intercepted Denver’s Drew Lock at the goal line on a Hail Mary attempt.

The Chargers have fallen four times this season after opening double-digit leads.

They lost 31-30 at Denver on Nov. 1 after having a 21-point lead. They blew 17-points leads in losses at New Orleans and Tampa Bay. They led Kansas City by 11 in Week 2 before losing.

Quarterback Justin Herbert completed 21 of 33 passes for 253 yards. With a second-quarter scoring pass to Austin Ekeler, Herbert set an NFL rookie record for touchdowns passes in a season with 28.

He also joined Patrick Mahomes as the only players in league history to top 4,000 passing yards through the first 14 starts of a career.

Entering the season’s final two weeks, both teams were depleted. The Chargers were missing their top three pass rushers. Joey Bosa, who has been in concussion protocol, was inactive, while Melvin Ingram and Uchenna Nwosu are on season-ending injured reserve.

They also were without their top two pass catchers for the season. Keenan Allen missed his first game since 2016 because of a hamstring injury. Tight end Hunter Henry was placed on the COVID-19 list Thursday.

Throughout the course of the game, the Chargers lost cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring) right tackle Bryan Bulaga (foot) and safety Rayshawn Jenkins (ankle).

The Chargers finish the regular season next Sunday at Kansas City. The Chiefs clinched the AFC’s top playoff seed with a 17-14 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.

Mike Williams (81) of the Los Angeles Chargers intercepts a pass during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Inglewood, Ca.