The San Diego Chargers overcame a 17 point deficit and defeated the Atlanta Falcons 33-30, stunning the partisan crowd of 69,832 at the Georgia Dome. The Chargers improved to 3-4 and the Falcons dropped to 4-3. Atlanta is currently leading the NFC South.
Although the Falcons had 380 yards of total offense, ran for 130 yards on the ground and scored 30 points. However a combination of penalties, an untimely interception and a never-say-die attitude displayed by the Chargers propelled them as they overcame a 27-10 2nd quarter deficit.
“This stings today for our team,” Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn said. “We want to pride ourselves in being very aggressive in all three phases. We certainly had our opportunities to finish today and we fell short of that. We’ll give credit to San Diego. I thought they played a hell of a game. I had belief in our guys in all three phases. We were going to be aggressive and keep attacking.”
The Chargers outscored the Falcons 23-3 in their comeback.
Quinn’s aggressiveness led him to go for it on 4th and 1 on their 45 yard line. The Falcons ran what appeared to be an off-tackle stretch play with Devonta Freeman. Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman tackled the running back for a loss. Six plays later, Chargers kicker Josh Lambo kicked a 42 yard field goal that sent the Falcons to their second straight loss.
“I just thought we’d have a good shot,” Quinn said. “We had a good look at a good run on that one. We didn’t execute like we can. We had the look there and what we wanted, and we liked the call. We just didn’t execute it and they did. It wasn’t a matter of if we had a different one. Obviously in those times you can throw it. We just thought, ‘hey here’s a chance for us, let’s get behind the line.’ They made a good play too. I’ve got to give them credit as well.”
Before the play, the Falcons had multiple opportunities to put the Chargers away however, self-inflicted mistakes helped decide the game. Atlanta committed nine penalties that costed them 70 yards. Included were four false start penalties and four holding penalties. The last holding penalty was tacked on at the end of Charger running back Melvin Gordon’s 5 yard run in overtime and set up the game-winning field goal.
“Too many procedural penalties for us before the snap,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Those are things that we can control. How do we fix it? We address it tomorrow and we work on it this entire week during practice and make sure that when we get back into the Dome next Sunday, we’re prepared to not make those same mistakes again.”
Matt Ryan finished up 22-of-34 for 273 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The one interception was by Denzel Perryman and set up the game-tying field goal.
Meanwhile, Philip Rivers had a resilient day. He completed 27-of-44 passes for 371 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked, he lost a fumble and remained steadfast in his belief in his defense.
“Obviously, you guys have covered us for a long time and seen wins like this, not so much down 17 and coming back to win but games like this; Get a chance at the end, find a way to win,” Rivers said. “The defense got a big stop and held them to three points in the second half, which is tough to do. I was so aggravated in the third quarter when we didn’t do anything with those drives and they [Chargers defense] got us stops, I kept saying, ‘we can’t do this, we have to score a touchdown.’ We can’t think our D, not that we don’t believe in those guys, but we can’t depend on them to hold them to three in the second half but they did it, and it was a huge way to win.”
Running back Melvin Gordon had three combined touchdowns (two running, one receiving) while notching 121 total yards from scrimmage. He now has 10 total touchdowns in the Chargers seven games this season.
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught nine passes for 174 yards today. However, he was frustrated with the lack of calls he received during the game especially the no-call late in the 4th quarter.
“They said it was uncatchable even though he pulled me down and I still touched it with one hand,” Jones said after the game. “They still said it was uncatchable. It’s just tough in back-to-back weeks for something like this to happen. You definitely can’t put everything on one play. At that moment in time, I felt like he didn’t allow me to go get the ball. I felt with my ability I could’ve gotten that ball. I didn’t even have to jump with everything I had to go get the ball and the referee still said it was uncatchable.”
Five Charger players raised their closed right fists while during the Star-Spangled Banner. Offensive linemen D.J. Fluker, Chris Hairston and Joe Barksdale and linebacker Joshua Perry held up their fists as they stood. Offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell, inactive and not in uniform, also raised his fist as part of the protest.
The Atlanta Falcons remain at home as the Green Bay Packers pay a visit to the Georgia Dome next Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:25pm and the game will be televised on FOX.
Photos used in this article are by John Bazemore, David Goldman and David Kamik of the Associated Press.