LANDOVER, Md. - The Washington Redskins nearly blew a 10-point lead in the final 6:59 of regulation time on Sunday. But they forced overtime with a goal-line stand in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, then beat the San Diego Chargers 30-24 when Darrel Young scored his third touchdown of the game on the Redskins' first possession of the extra period.
Washington took the overtime kickoff and drove 78 yards in 10 plays, finishing off the game-winning drive when Young scored on a 4-yard run, with 8:59 remaining.
"The way we won the game can be a turning point for us," said Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, whose team is 3-2 since a 0-3 start and trail NFC East-leading Dallas by two games.
The Chargers were in position to win the game in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Washington led 24-21 when Philip Rivers' 6-yard pass to running back Danny Woodhead was initially called a touchdown. After reviewing the replay, however, officials ruled Woodhead went out of bounds just inside the 1-yard line, where the Chargers had the ball with a first down.
Woodhead's first-down run was stopped and two pass attempted resulted in incompletions.
San Diego settled for Nick Novak's tying, 19-yard field goal with four seconds left, putting the game into overtime.
"Those are the plays that you have to make to be able to win in this league," said Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, with whom Rivers failed to connect on second down from the 1.
The Chargers, who were coming off consecutive victories followed by their bye, fell to 4-4. They trail Kansas City (9-0) and Denver (7-1) in the AFC West heading into next week's against the visiting Broncos.
"We have to prove we can come back after a loss," said rookie receiver Keenan Allen, whose 16-yard touchdown catch from Rivers (29-of-46, 341, two touchdowns, two interceptions) completed a 77-yard march and brought San Diego within 24-21 with 4:10 left.
Then came the 91-yard drive that nearly resulted in the game-winning touchdown.
But the Redskins were ready for the pass plays on second and third down.
"This team likes to spread you out on the goal line and run the ball," said Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield. "When they bring in their heavy personnel, that's when they like to try and pass it. It kind of followed the script."
Griffin rebounded after being battered and off-target in Denver the previous Sunday. Although his ninth pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, Griffin completed 23 of his other 31 attempts for 291 yards.
Down 14-7, Washington marched 74 yards in 14 plays to start the third quarter. Receiver Pierre Garcon's superb 38-yard catch despite pass interference was the big play. Young scored on a 1-yard run.
Garcon (seven catches, 172 yards) began Washington's next series with a 32-yard catch-and-run. Receiver Leonard Hankerson's grab of a low pass put the Redskins on the San Diego 8. Young scored from the 1 again two plays later as Washington took a 21-14 edge on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Allen ended San Diego's ensuing possession by dropping a pass when he was wide-open inside Washington territory. And when the Chargers got the ball back, rookie cornerback David Amerson picked off Rivers' pass for Allen at the Washington 49. Kai Forbath kicked a 47-yard field goal seven plays later to extend the Redskins' advantage to 24-14 with 6:59 to go.
The Redskins started their first two drives at their 1-yard line. Their impressive first series ended when Lawrence Guy blocked Forbath's 25-yard field goal to keep the game scoreless.
After punter Mike Scifres pinned Washington back a second time, Guy deflected Griffin's pass from the end zone. The ball caromed off defensive tackle Cam Thomas' back and into the arms of defensive end Sean Lissemore for a touchdown with 11:35 left in the second quarter, the first score by San Diego's defense this season.
Washington's defense responded with a takeaway as nickel back E.J. Biggers intercepted Rivers' pass at the Washington 33. Griffin passed to Hankerson for 23 yards. A penalty on defensive end Corey Liguet for grabbing Alfred Morris' facemask was followed by the running back breaking free for a 26-yard scamper to the San Diego 5. Morris (25 carries, 121 yards), burst into the end zone on the next play to tie the game 7-7.
San Diego answered with a 11-play, 85-yard march marked by shoddy Redskins tackling and alert plays by Rivers, who finished it with an 11-yard screen pass to receiver Eddie Royal that made it 14-7 with 42 seconds left in the half, which ended with Liguet blocking Forbath's 59-yard try.
Notes: The Chargers hadn't blocked a field goal in 175 games over exactly 11 years before the two blocks during the first half. ... With those failures, Forbath has missed five of 10 field goal tries since converting an NFL-record 17 to start his career last season. ... San Diego set a franchise record by not allowing a touchdown in 12 straight quarters before Morris' score. ... The Redskins welcomed back 32 of the 80 players who were chosen last year as the greatest in franchise history, including quarterback Doug Williams, the MVP of Super Bowl XXII that was played 26 seasons ago in San Diego.