July 15, 2024

Russell Wilson throws 2 TD passes, Justin Herbert injured as Broncos cruise past Chargers 24-7

Denver Broncos running back Samaje Perine (25) carries the ball against Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (9) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes and the Denver Broncos beat the Chargers 24-7 Sunday after Los Angeles lost quarterback Justin Herbert due to broken finger in the first half.
Wilson completed 21 of 33 for 224 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown to Courtland Sutton in the third quarter for Denver (7-6), which has won six of its last seven.
It was the Broncos’ first road victory against an AFC West foe since beating the Chargers on Oct. 6, 2019.
Herbert has a fracture in his right index finger, coach Brandon Staley said. The Chargers will do more tests before determining how long Herbert will be out. It is a short week for the Bolts, who are at Las Vegas on Thursday night.
He had a fracture on the middle finger of his left non-throwing hand earlier this season.
Herbert was 9 of 17 for 96 yards with an interception before being injured, apparently while he was taken down awkwardly by Denver’s Zach Allen after throwing a pass. Herbert had been sacked four times and hit six times during the Chargers’ first six possessions, with his teammates repeatedly missing their blocks against Denver’s pass rushers.
Easton Stick completed 13 of 24 passes for 179 yards in Herbert’s place. He had played two NFL snaps in five seasons with Los Angeles before replacing the Bolts’ franchise quarterback with 1:52 remaining in the second quarter. His best throw was a 57-yard strike to Quentin Johnston during the fourth quarter. Four plays later, Austin Ekeler put Los Angeles on the board with a 4-yard TD.
Javonte Williams and Adam Trautman also scored for the Broncos. Denver’s defense forced six sacks and a pair of turnovers.
The Chargers (5-8) have dropped four of five.
Denver had a 10-0 halftime lead and extended it with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter on Wilson’s connection to Sutton. On first-and-10 from the Chargers 46, Wilson had plenty of time before stepping up in the pocket and throwing a deep pass. Sutton made a one-handed catch near the back of the end zone while being covered by Michael Davis.
Denver took a 7-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the first quarter on Javonte Williams’ 3-yard run up the middle. The touchdown was set up when linebacker Jonathon Cooper picked off Herbert at the LA 7 after Herbert’s passes was batted at the line of scrimmage by Baron Browning.
The Chargers also had a red zone interception earlier in the first quarter but could not convert it into points. Davis made a diving pick on a pass intended for Marvin Mims Jr. at the Denver 13.
Los Angeles had fourth-and-3 at the Denver 6, but Gerald Everett couldn’t catch Herbert’s pass in the end zone.
Broncos: RG Quinn Meinerz left the game due to an elevated heart rate at halftime. … LB Nik Bonitto had a knee injury in the first half.
Broncos: At Detroit Lions on Saturday night.
Chargers: At Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.