NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees keeps coming through in the clutch in his 20th season, while the Los Angeles Chargers keep squandering the heady play of promising rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.
The 41-year-old Brees became the oldest quarterback with more than 32 completions in an NFL game, Wil Lutz kicked a 36-yard field goal in overtime and New Orleans’ defense stopped receiver Mike Williams just short on fourth down to preserve a 30-27 victory over the seemingly star-crossed Chargers on Monday night.
“This is how you grow as a team. This is how you become battle-tested — and I think it pays dividends as you move along,” said Brees, who rushed for a 1-yard touchdown and hit tight end Jared Cook for a 41-yard score as the Saints rallied from a 17-point, second-quarter deficit.
“These are the tests that really bring a team together and give you confidence and give you momentum and really shape you,” Brees continued. “We know if we can put ourselves in position to win, then we can do that.”
Figuring that out is proving to be a painful process for the Chargers (1-4), who fell to their fourth straight loss by a touchdown or less, and the second in overtime. They also blew a 17-point lead for a second straight game.
“Never thought this team would lose four straight. We’ve put ourselves in position, but we didn’t get it done,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “We have to finish these damn games.”
Chargers kicker Michael Badgley, who missed his first career point-after kick wide right in the first quarter, had a chance to redeem himself after Williams’ leaping catch between two defenders put the Chargers on the Saints’ 32-yard line in the final seconds. But Badgley’s 50-yard kick as time expired bounced off the right upright.
“The young man has been kicking outstanding. He’s got to do better but we could have done some other things better,” Lynn said.
Herbert’s fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 64-yarder to Williams, briefly put Los Angeles back in front before the Saints (3-2) tied it on Taysom Hill’s 9-yard run with 52 seconds left in regulation.
Herbert, who was named the starter for the remainder of the season this week, finished 20 of 34 for 264 yards without an turnover. Five of his completions went to Williams for 109 yards and two TDs.
“It’s a learning process,” Herbert said. “Losing is horrible, but we are going to turn it around.”