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Chargers-Cardinals Recap: Justin Herbert leads game-winning drive over feisty Cardinals

The Bolts got a big game out of their “social media quarterback.”

Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Chargers bounced back following their two-game losing streak to beat the Cardinals 25-24 thanks to a touchdown in the waning seconds of Sunday’s afternoon matchup in Arizona.

With 12 seconds remaining, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi pulled out the team’s “money” play — a fake run sprint out to the right where Justin Herbert hit Austin Ekeler in stride before reaching the ball inside the pylon.

Instead of playing for the tie, Staley chose to go for a two-point try. Herbert found Gerald Everett on an angle route and the rest was history.

The defense also deserves plenty of praise, even if Kyler Murray and the Cardinals ran roughshod over them at times.

Derwin James took the ball away twice and they did just enough to give Herbert the ball at the very end.

Pretty good for a “social media” quarterback, if you ask me.

For a complete quarter-by-quarter recap of tonight’s game, check it all out below.

First Quarter

The Chargers started with the ball but failed to do much on their opening drive. After a first down catch by Keenan Allen on the team’s initial third down of the game, the Bolts were forced to punt after J.J. Watt beat Jamaree Salyer for a clean sack.

Derwin James stole the ball away from James Connor just a few plays into the Arizona drive to give the Chargers excellent field position. However, they couldn’t muster a first down, Herbert was sacked again — this time by Zach Thomas — and they punted once again.

The Cardinals finally found a groove without giving the ball away on their next drive. On a third down inside Chargers territory, Kyler Murray found DeAndre Hopkins over the middle. Rookie JT Woods attempted to throw a shoulder into Hopkins but the All-Pro spun around the attempt and glided into the end zone almost untouched from 33 yards out. With 2:33 in the quarter, the Cards were up 7-0.

Herbert and the offense once again couldn’t muster anything on their next offensive possession. After going three-and-out for the second time in their first three drives, they had just 17 total yards on 12 plays in the first 15 minutes.

The quarter expired with the Cardinals back in Chargers territory following a good punt return by Pharoh Cooper.

Second Quarter

True to form, the Chargers offense came to life early in the second quarter.

After punting three times in the opening period, Herbert marched the offense 75 yards in 11 plays and found Keenan Allen for his first score of the 2022 season. With a little under nine minutes remaining in the half, the Chargers were back in it down 10-7.

On the Cardinals ensuing drive, they were stopped short of a first on third down and Kliff Kingsbury decided to attempt a play-action pass on fourth-and-one.

Murray dropped back and attempted to hit Hopkins up the left sideline with James in coverage. The ball was under-thrown and James was able to rip it away from Hopkins for his second takeaway of the half.

Herbert kept his foot on the gas, finding DeAndre Carter from 33 yards out to push the Chargers back over the Cardinals 14-10 with roughly 4:30 to play in the half.

Murray finally realized he could use his legs against the Bolts defense on the final drive as he mustered over 35 rushing yards and a touchdown run just before the half ticked away.

As the teams headed to the locker rooms, the Cardinals were back on top 17-14.

Third Quarter

Arizona started the second half on offense with all the momentum in the world to find points on either side of the break. The offense started hot with a big 18-yard run by Murray on a quarterback sweep to the right. On the next play, Connor broke loose for another first down.

The Chargers defense finally hunkered down and forced the Cardinals to kick, but Matt Prater went wide left for his first miss in the last 18 attempts. After the first drive of the second half, the Bolts remained down by three.

Herbert rode a streak of 18-straight completions through the next drive but it ended inside the Arizona 20-yard line on a pass to Allen in the end zone who couldn’t quite get two feet in. They were eventually stopped short of a touchdown and settled for three points to knot things up at 17-17.

Time ticked away in the third period with the Cardinals at the Chargers 12-yard line.

Fourth Quarter

Just after the start of the quarter, Murray found Connor on a wheel route up the right sideline. Kenneth Murray had him dead to rights four yards short of the goal line and feet from the sideline but Murray whiffed and Connor jogged into the end zone to give Arizona back the lead 24-17.

The Chargers defense found a groove late in the game, forcing the Cardinals into two consecutive three-and-outs. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t manage any points following both stops.

With one final drive to go, Herbert willed the offense down the field with big plays from both Allen and Palmer to keep the chains moving.

Ekeler was the face of the drive in the end as he got the team down to the one-yard line on a screen and then caught a touchdown with 12 seconds left.

The old Brandon Staley came out following the score as the team decided to go for two instead of playing for the tie. Herbert found Gerald Everett on the try and the Chargers would walk away victors 25-24 on the road.

Justin Herbert finished with 274 yards on 35-of-47 passing with three touchdowns.

Austin Ekeler had another quiet game with only 20 rushing yards on five carries. He also pitched in 11 receptions for 60 more yards, including the game-winning touchdown.

DeAndre Carter paced the offense with 73 yards and a score on a season high seven receptions. Keenan Allen caught five passes for 49 yards and his first touchdown of the season.

Alohi Gilman led the defense with 10 total tackles and a pass deflection. Michael Davis recorded the team’s lone sack on Kyler Murray.

The Chargers are on the road again next week against the Raiders.