Austin Ekeler, Andre Roberts and Mike Williams scored touchdowns after missing last week’s game on the COVID-19 reserve list as the Los Angeles Chargers defeated the Denver Broncos, 34-13, Sunday at SoFi Stadium, moving within one victory of a playoff berth.
Ekeler ran 3 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, Roberts returned a kickoff 101 yards in the fourth quarter and Williams caught a 45-yard pass from Justin Herbert later in the fourth quarter.
They were among 13 Chargers who missed last Sunday’s 41-29 loss to the Houston Texans because they were on the COVID-19 reserve list, along with outside linebacker Joey Bosa. The four-time Pro Bowl selection made six tackles Sunday, including one for a loss.
The touchdown pass to Williams gave Herbert 35 for the season, breaking the previous team record of 34 set by Philip Rivers in 2008. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 237 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown to Keenan Allen 14 seconds before halftime.
The 9-7 Chargers would be assured of their first playoff berth since 2018 and second since 2014 with a victory in their regular-season finale next Sunday at Las Vegas.
The Chargers outgained Denver, 341 yards to 319, led 21-18 in first downs and 30:16-29:44 in time of possession.
The Chargers held the Broncos (7-9) to a 61-yard field goal by Brandon McManus on the final play of the first half, the longest of his eight-season NFL career, a 23-yard field goal by McManus on the first play of the fourth quarter, and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Drew Lock to tight end Noah Fant with six minutes, 31 seconds to play.
Former Charger Melvin Gordon appeared to run 1 yard for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter but the score was nullified on an illegal formation penalty as offensive lineman Austin Schlottmann reported in an as an eligible receiver, but did not line up in a spot as an eligible receiver, prompting Denver coach Vic Fangio to send in McManus to attempt the field goal.
Lock completed 18 of 25 passes for 245 yards in place of Teddy Bridgewater who missed his second consecutive game because of a concussion.
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 19-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 23-yarder in the third for the Chargers.