The Los Angeles Chargers beat the Denver Broncos, 34-13, in Week 17 of the 2021 season.
Denver won the toss and chose to defer. Wide receiver/return specialist Andre Roberts returned the kick for 47-yards to put the Bolts in great position on their opening-drive. Chargers running back Austin Ekeler wasted no time making an impact in his return. Ekeler put together a 14-yard run that brought the ball to the Denver three-yard line. On the next play, Ekeler ran across the goal line for a three-yard rushing touchdown, for his 18th touchdown on the year. The opening-drive score put the Bolts up 7-0 after the PAT from kicker Dustin Hopkins.
On the Broncos' opening-drive, the Bolts defense was able to hold the Broncos to a 4th-and-6 at the Chargers 44-yard line. The Broncos decided to go for it on 4th down, but the Bolts collapsed the pocket and quarterback Drew Lock was sacked by defensive lineman Jerry Tillery for a loss of 10 yards. The sack gave the ball back to the Bolts on the Denver 46-yard line, but the Chargers were forced to punt the ball back to the Broncos on 4th-and-8.
After a series of punts between the Broncos and Chargers, Lock was evaluated for a right shoulder injury and was listed as questionable to return to the game forcing the Broncos to put Brett Rypien in at quarterback.
With the ball back in their hands and just over two-minutes left in the first quarter, Herbert fired a pass to running back Justin Jackson for a first down on 3rd-and-6. The Chargers ended the first quarter on a six-yard rush from Ekeler to the Broncos 38-yard line.
Center Corey Linsley was deemed questionable to return with a back injury.
The Chargers continued their drive into the second quarter and were able to get to the Broncos four-yard line but were stopped on third down. The Bolts elected to kick the field goal and Hopkins made the 19-yarder to make the score 10-0, Chargers.
Lock returned to the game and on 1st-and-10 delivered a deep pass to wide receiver Courtland Sutton into Chargers territory. The Broncos were able to drive down to the Chargers two-yard line but on 3rd-and-2, running back Javonte Williams was stopped for no gain. The Broncos went for it on 4th-and-goal and were stopped at the one-yard line by Joey Bosa and Chris Harris Jr.
The Bolts were forced to punt the ball away on their next drive, but as Ty Long punted the ball back to the Broncos, wide receiver Diontae Spencer muffed the punt and cornerback Kemon Hall recovered the ball. The Broncos turnover gave the ball back to the Chargers at the Denver 49-yard line with just over three minutes left in the half.
With the ball back in their hands, the Bolts were able to keep their late second quarter drive going on 4th-and-2 with an 11-yard pass to Ekeler, and a nine-yard scramble from Herbert on 3rd-and-2. A few plays later, Herbert found Keenan Allen for an eight-yard touchdown pass to make the score 17-0 after the PAT with 19 seconds left in the second quarter. The touchdown pass put Herbert's total to 34 on the year, which ties Phillip Rivers' single season passing touchdown record that he set in 2008.
With two seconds left in the first half, Broncos kicker Brandon McManus attempted a 61-yard field goal and made it as time expired to make it 17-3, Chargers heading into halftime.
The Broncos received the kick to start the second half and the Bolts were able to force them to punt the ball away after six plays. A few plays into the Bolts' ensuing drive, Herbert found Ekeler for a short pass that he took for a 40-yard gain that brought the Bolts into Denver territory. A few plays later, the Bolts were forced to settle for a field goal that grew the Bolts' lead to 20-3 with 7:12 left in the third quarter.
Denver was able to drive down deep into the Bolts territory fueled by a 35-yard gain to tight end Noah Fant, but as time expired in the third, the Chargers were able to hold the Broncos on third down.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Broncos faced a 4th-and-goal from the Chargers' one-yard line. Gordon was able to find the end zone, but the rushing touchdown was nullified by an illegal formation called on Denver. The Broncos kicked a field goal to make the score 20-6.
On the ensuing kickoff, Roberts, who caught the ball in the end zone was able to return the kick for a 101-yard touchdown. The kick return made the score 27-6, Chargers, after the PAT from Hopkins.
In need of a score on their next drive, the Broncos elected to go for it on fourth down again, this time on a 4th-and-3. Lock delivered a pass to Fant but the pass fell incomplete. The incomplete pass gave the ball back to the Bolts on their own 48-yard line. A few plays later, Herbert fired a pass deep down field and found Mike Williams for a 45-yard touchdown pass that made the score 34-6 with 10:26 left to play in the game. The touchdown pass gave Herbert 35 touchdown passes on the season, breaking Phillip Rivers' record of 34.
On their next possession, the Broncos were able to put together a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass from Lock to Fant that made the score 34-13 after the PAT was good.
That ended up being the final score to get the Chargers to 9-7 on the season.
Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 17 matchup against the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium.