GLENDALE, Ariz. — Two-point and season.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert had just orchestrated a game-saving touchdown drive in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals. Needing an extra point to tie the game and force overtime, Chargers coach Brandon Staley instead elected to go for a two-point conversion.
The Chargers coach has been maligned for his aggressive play style. His gutsy decision in the desert fit the bill. This time, though, his choice paid off. Herbert completed a short pass to a wide open Gerald Everett in the end zone for a successful two-point conversion. With 15 seconds remaining in the contest, in what was the biggest play of the game, it was a simple pitch and catch.
“All the guys on offense wanted to be out there for that play. We knew that we had a good play and the right guys on the field,” Herbert said postgame. “The offensive line did a great job protecting and gave me enough time to get the ball off and Gerald (Everett) made a nice catch on the play.”
Everett knew the two-point conversion play was designed for him to get the football.
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“It’s what you practice on. You practice all day and every week. You just hope and pray that it makes it to the game plan or to that big moment. A lot of times you practice it and it’s not called,” Everett said to USA TODAY Sports. “Just repetition, repetition and repetition and it pays off.”
The pay off was a season-saving 25-24 victory for the Chargers (6-5).
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The Chargers overcame an early 10-0 first half deficit, and then rallied back from down 24-17 in the fourth quarter to notch a thrilling road win over the Cardinals. The victory marked the Chargers’ fourth come-from-behind win of the year. Additionally, it was Herbert’s 10th career fourth-quarter comeback, which is tied for the most by any player since the start of the 2020 season.
“Behind 10-0, and for us to keep that belief on the road when it gets loud and you lose a couple players. I think for our guys to show that resilience and the heart and soul. Hopefully, fans don’t get tired of hearing me talk about the heart and soul of your team. You’re gonna have to find it on the road when you’re behind and when you’re in two-minute,” Staley said postgame. “This group has a lot of it. We have a lot of quality leadership on this football team. We came here to win. It’s that simple. We came here to win. And that’s what we did there at the end of the game.”
Sunday’s victory was the most important win of the Chargers’ season to date. Los Angeles went into Sunday’s game losers of two in a row and outside of the top seven teams in the AFC playoff race. It was a must-win game for a Chargers club attempting to earn its first playoff berth since 2018.
“We needed this one. It was definitely a must-win game,” Chargers safety Derwin James told USA TODAY Sports. “If we want to get to where we want, we had to take care of this one.”
Each game down the stretch is crucial for the Chargers. Stakes are just as high for Week 13’s game versus the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Chargers came into the season with a lot of promise, but they’ve underachieved and have been decimated by injuries. They haven’t defeated a team with a winning record and they came into Sunday with 13 players on injured reserve. Yet, Week 12’s triumph might be just what the doctor ordered for the playoff-hungry Chargers. Wide receiver Mike Williams (ankle) is expected back on the field soon and other reinforcements could follow.
With six games remaining on the regular-season calendar, the Chargers only face two opponents currently with winning records. Sunday’s win kept the Chargers’ playoff hopes alive and simultaneously boosted the team’s morale as they head into December football.
“It builds confidence,” Everett said to USA TODAY Sports. “We play from behind so much. As just feel like, when we jump out on teams, can’t nobody mess with us. We got the confidence, we got the talent, we got the work ethic and we just believe in each other.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.
Story Credit: usatoday.com