The Chargers traveled to Atlanta to take on the high-flying offense of Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. This was a decisive game for the Chargers, who were hoping to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season. This game would show if the Chargers could compete against one of the best offenses in the NFL, or if they are not as good as their hot starts to games suggests.
The game started just like most would think, with an impressive offensive drive by Philip Rivers and the Chargers. The initial drive was boosted by a large gain by Tyrell Williams through the air, and capped by a Melvin Gordon rushing touchdown, to put the Chargers up by seven within the first five minutes of the game.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones started to hook-up early as well, with Jones making some impressive catches. Throughout the Falcons fist drive Matt Ryan was under constant pressure, and felt it as the Falcons had to settle for a field goal, shrinking the Chargers lead to 7-3.
Although the Chargers came out hot, on their second drive the Chargers started to decline. Rivers threw a pass to Dexter McCluster who tipped it, allowing the pass to be intercepted by Deion Jones on the Chargers 10. Luckily the Chargers defense held up forcing the Falcons to settle for another field goal, again shrinking the Chargers lead to 7-6.
After that things just got ugly for the Chargers, and they couldn’t get anything going offensively or defensively. The Chargers settled for one field goal while the Falcons scored 21 unanswered points, including a defensive fumble recovery and run by Adrian Clayborn that led to a 27-10 Falcon lead.
On the ensuing drive things seemed to get better for the Chargers when Rivers aired it out to Tyrell Williams for a 38-yard gain, getting the Chargers out of a 2nd and 16 position. Travis Benjamin helped out by snagging a 21-yard catch and run, bringing the Chargers in the red-zone. Hunter Henry caught his first pass of the game for 16-yards to put the Chargers at the Atlanta 3-yard line. The drive ended with Melvin Gordon bullying his way into the end zone, his second touchdown of the game, bringing the score to 27-17.
The Falcons started the second half with the ball, but the Chargers defense quickly forced a three and out. This stop give life to a Chargers team who needed to capitalize, and start to build momentum going into the second half, however the Chargers offense didn’t fare much better also subject to a quick three and out.
The Chargers offense seemed to get in a rhythm during their second possession of the second half, with several key runs by Melvin Gordon, and Kenneth Farrow. However, they would eventually settle for a field goal after Antonio Gates was unable to hold on to a short pass from Rivers, bringing it to a one score game 27-20.
After an Atlanta field goal, the Chargers offense again strung together an impressive drive despite Rivers being constantly pressured and sacked twice. Rivers was able to complete passes to Williams, Gordon, Benjamin, Gates, Whalen, and capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon his third touchdown of the game. That touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter closed Atlanta’s lead to only 30-27.
With only 3:41 left to play in the game, Matt Ryan threw a deep pass intended for Julio Jones, and was intercepted by Denzel Perryman at the Chargers 34-yard line to give the Chargers the ball late in the fourth quarter. Rivers took the field and got to work, connecting with Tyrell Williams for a 9-yard gain, however the next two plays were dismal. Melvin Gordon ran one behind the left tackle for no gain, and then behind the left guard for a loss of a yard. Good thing the Chargers could lean on Antonio Gates who on 4th and 2 caught a short slant from Philip Rivers to convert and keep the Chargers drive alive.
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After a 17-yard catch from Dontrelle Inman the Chargers were in field-goal range. Travis Benjamin helped to get closer to the end zone with a 9-yard catch and run. On the ensuing play Melvin Gordon was tasked with picking up the first down on 3rd and 1, but was met in the back field instantly. However, Gordon bounced of defenders, switched directions and ran to the left for a 13-yard gain, and the first down.
The drive fizzled out at the Atlanta 15-yard line after failed attempts to complete passes to McCluster, Whalen, and Gates. The Chargers would settle for a field goal from Josh Lambo evening up the score 30-30 with only 22 seconds left to play in the game.
Atlanta took the field with all three of their time outs remaining, and 18 seconds on the clock. The Chargers once again started to play conservative only rushing three defenders. This conservative play allowed Matt Ryan time to connect with Julio Jones for 25-yards, putting Atlanta at the 50-yard line. After an incomplete pass Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones again for an 11-yard gain to put Atlanta at the Chargers 39-yard line, and more importantly leaving one second on the clock. Atlanta’s kicker Matt Bryant attempted a 58-yard field goal, which hit the upright and sent the game into overtime.
Atlanta won the toss and elected to receive the ball. The Chargers defense awoke in overtime forcing a 4th and 1-yard situation. On 4th and 1-yard Devonta Freeman attempted to power behind the left guard, but was met in the backfield by Denzel Perryman who forced a turnover on downs, and gave the Chargers the ball on the Falcons 45-yard line.
The Chargers started their overtime drive with a run by Melvin Gordon that resulted in a loss of two yards, however Rivers came through clutch completing an 11-yard pass to Antonio Gates making it 3rd and 1. Gordon picked up the first down with a two yard run, and got Lambo closer field goal positon by a 5-yard gain.
On the following play Philip Rivers kneeled to the ground to set up a Josh Lambo 42- yard field goal. Lambo hit the field goal to give the Chargers the 33-30 win, and allowing the Chargers to move to 3-4 on the season, and beat one of the best offenses in the NFL.
The Chargers defensive front looked good holding Davonta Freeman to 58 yards rushing, and Tevin Coleman to only 64 yards. Joey Bosa continued to impress with two sacks and five total tackles, and Denzel Perryman made an argument for player of the game with seven total tackles, an interception, and key plays including a 4th down stop in overtime. The Chargers secondary looked decent, holding Matt Ryan to 273 yards and one touchdown, despite Julio Jones having a career day with 174 yards receiving.
The Chargers offense looked great, led by Philip Rivers who threw for 371 yards, and one touchdown, while also helping Tyrell Williams reach a career high 140 yards receiving. Melvin Gordon ended his day with a career high three total touchdowns, making a case for player of the game.
The Chargers will travel to Denver next week to take on the Denver Broncos, and try to sweep the series, while the Broncos will seek revenge for last week’s 21-13 loss.