Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert sets rookie record for TD passes

LOS ANGELES -- Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert broke the rookie passing touchdown record Sunday, with a nine-yard scoring pass to running back Austin Ekeler to give him 28 on the season.

The previous record was 27, set by the Cleveland Browns' Baker Mayfield in 2018.

"I can't remember who came up to me and told me," Herbert told reporters after the game. "It's a pretty cool statistic."

He was quick to credit his teammates -- including Hunter Henry, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and injured Keenan Allen -- saying they're all a part of the record as well. The soft-spoken Herbert grinned while talking about what he had done and gave a fist-bump on the field.

"You are so busy doing the extra things that you really don't have time to realize some of the special things we have done on offense this season,'' Herbert said.

Herbert joined Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the only QBs in NFL history to eclipse 4,000 passing yards through their first 14 career starts.

"I am glad we have the young man," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said of Herbert. "He works his tail off. I give him all the credit in the world."

Herbert's record-setting touchdown pass came at the 8:28 mark of the second quarter and gave the Chargers a 10-0 lead over the Denver Broncos. Overall, Herbert completed 21 of 33 passes for 253 yards and the Chargers won 19-16 thanks to a Michael Badgley 37-yard field goal with 45 seconds to play.

Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 draft, tied the record last week against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Herbert, 22, was planning to back up Tyrod Taylor as the season began, and Taylor led the Chargers to their first victory in a 16-13 win over Cincinnati. But Taylor was injured in that game and a team doctor injected him with a pain-killer just before kickoff of Game 2 vs. Kansas City and inadvertently punctured his lung and Taylor was taken to the hospital and Herbert has been the starter since that point.

Players were stunned to see Herbert step in under center that day, but as Ekeler said, "we went with it." Herbert led the team to a 23-20 OT loss to Kansas City, throwing for 311 yards. Ironically, the Chargers' last game of the season will be against the same Chiefs team he first faced.

He has been as effective as possible, but not getting the goal of wins. He did engineer two game-winning drives in the last two games, leading the Chargers over Atlanta and Las Vegas. The rookie out of Oregon has been praised for his poise and maturity in the huddle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.