Herbert takes another step for Chargers, albeit in a loss

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP)Justin Herbert is showing why the Los Angeles Chargers were excited to select him with the sixth pick of the NFL draft.

The rookie from Oregon had another big day passing Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, albeit in a third consecutive loss.

”Any time we lose the game it’s not good enough,” coach Anthony Lynn said after the Chargers let a 17-point lead slip away en route to a 38-31 loss.

Herbert completed 20 of 25 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to receivers scoring on the first catches of their NFL careers. He was sacked twice and threw his only interception on the Chargers’ final drive of the day.

Through three starts standing in for injured starter Tyrod Taylor, the 22-year-old quarterback has thrown for 931 yards and five TDs.

Cam Newton, with 1,012 yards and four 4 TDs through three games of his rookie year in 2011, is the only player who’s thrown for more yardage at that point in a career.

”Despite the loss it was an awesome experience,” Herbert said. ”I know we are going to get better and have a lot to improve.”

Herbert threw TD passes of 53 yards to Tyron Johnson and 72 yards to Jalen Guyton, becoming the first rookie to toss a pair of TD passes of 50-plus yards in the same game since Deshaun Watson did it for Houston in 2017.

Johnson, promoted from the practice squad earlier in the day, and tight end Donald Parham, Jr., scored on the first receptions of their careers. Parham’s 19-yard TD reception gave the Chargers a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and five TDs for the Bucs, shrugging off an early interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Herbert was 2 when the 43-year-old Brady made his pro debut with the New England Patriots in 2000. Sunday marked the first time since at least 1950 that the age gap between starting quarterbacks in a NFL game was at least 20 years.

The rookie said the six-time Super Bowl champion told him after the game to keep his ”head up and keep playing.”

Brady was impressed with what he saw during the game.

”He was very impressive and played great. Our defense played great all year and he hung in there and made a lot of good throws,” Brady said.

”They hit us on some big plays. We blitzed them a little bit and he just stood in there and took it,” Brady added. ”He’s got, obviously, all the ability. He’s got a great arm and moves really well. The team believes in him, so he’s off to a great start.”

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