The San Diego Chargers overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat the NFC South leading Atlanta Falcons in overtime. Unlike most of the Chargers other games they trailed for much of this contest in a hostile environment due to turnovers. An early game on the east coast will do that to teams from the west. In the first half, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones were having their way with San Diego’s depleted secondary. The defense was getting blown off the line in the run department. In addition, the Chargers offense looked flustered against a fast unit feeding off the crowd noise. However, a crucial touchdown with a little over a minute before the half by Melvin Gordon swung the pendulum in favor of the Bolts.
Philip Rivers and the offense found their groove in the second half after turning it over twice in the first half. Rivers threw 47 times for 371 yards and a touchdown. Ken Whisenhunt did a good job calling run and pass plays that kept the team on par with the desired down and distance. Rivers and Tyrell Williams had Atlanta’s secondary on their heels after a stellar first half. Williams continues to make a name for himself as he had seven catches for 140 yards. As a result, Antonio Gates, Travis Benjamin, and Gordon found a lot of daylight underneath. Gordon is starting to become a well-rounded back as he had 28 touches for 131 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the league with 10 touchdowns.
The defense was in “bend but don’t break” mode all afternoon. Despite a rough first half and a 174-yard performance by Jones, the Chargers defense held the Falcons offense to a field goal in the second half. Joey Bosa came up big with two sacks after halftime. The front seven did a good job on key third downs to get them off the field. The added pressure created by Bosa and Melvin Ingram has been a big reason San Diego has won their last two.
There were key plays in the second half that helped the Chargers seal the victory. A big hit on Devonta Freeman resulted in a dropped pass in the red zone by Trevor Williams. This forced Atlanta to settle for three. They do not win if Denzel Perryman did not pick off Ryan late in the fourth quarter that led to a game-tying field goal by Josh Lambo. A missed field goal by Falcons kicker Matt Bryant led to OT. In overtime, key stops on third and fourth down helped set of Lambo’s game winner.
Give credit where credit is due as Mike McCoy and the coaching staff has gotten their team to settle down and execute. McCoy said his team never got nervous and it showed in their comeback win. These last two wins are momentum builders for a team that is not quite of the AFC West division race. Last week they overcame the propensity to squander fourth quarter leads. This week they experienced the other side of the spectrum.
Next week the Chargers head to Denver to play the Broncos in another big game. The Chargers are definitely one of the scariest teams to face, but even a trip to Denver is a tall task for them. McCoy did say this is a good team after last week’s win against his former team. A win again against the Super Bowl champs in the Mile High City would certainly put everyone on notice and put the Chargers squarely in the playoff hunt.
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