The Falcons added one more to the loss column Sunday, with a final score of 33-30. It sucked.
The game got off to an inauspicious start, as Falcons games so often do, with the defense giving up a pretty easy Chargers touchdown on the very first drive. The Falcons’ offense, on the other hand, started slow — as they also often tend to do — settling for field goals on their first two possessions.
The second field goal, though, came after a huge play by rookie inside linebacker Deion Jones, who had his second interception of the season. If you’ll remember, he ran the first one back 90 yards for a touchdown against the Saints earlier this season, and he very nearly did the same thing against the Chargers.
Atlanta’s offense couldn’t get it into the end zone, but the stellar rookie was directly responsible for getting the Falcons in position to put three more points on the board. The Falcons trailed 7-6 heading into the second.
And that 7-6 deficit quickly turned into a 10-6 deficit as the Falcons held the Chargers to a field goal to start the second quarter. Thankfully, the offense seemed to wake up a bit on the next possession, with Ryan hitting Jacob Tamme for a 17-yard touchdown to go up 13-10.
The Falcons scored on their next possession, too, on a 30-yard Tevin Coleman run. They also scored on the Chargers’ next possession, as alleged bust Vic Beasley came up with a big strip sack on Philip Rivers on the Chargers’ 8-yard line, which Adrian Clayborn recovered and ran in for a touchdown. It gave the Falcons a 27-10 lead.
Then the Falcons’ defense started doing things the Falcons’ defense tends to do, like giving up big plays and just generally looking like their lives are in shambles. They gave up plays of 38 yards, 21 yards and 16 yards, respectively, letting San Diego narrow the Falcons’ lead to 10 points heading into the half.
As opposed to last week against the Seahawks, when the Falcons only scored touchdowns during the third quarter, they were held scoreless in the third quarter this week against the Chargers.
Falcons fans everywhere remembered with a chill the third quarter woes that have plagued this team throughout the past several seasons, and everyone started to worry because a Chargers field goal cut Atlanta’s lead to one score.
The fourth quarter began with the Falcons within striking distance of the end zone, and while they ultimately stalled out, Matt Bryant got the field goal to put the Falcons up 30-20.
The Chargers followed that up with some supremely frustrating plays around a pair of Falcons sacks, and wound up scoring a touchdown on yet another Melvin Gordon touchdown catch. That brought San Diego within three, and illustrated how to attack the Falcons defense: By throwing a bunch of passes underneath, preferably over the middle.
The next drive proved to be catastrophic for Atlanta. They marched down the field pretty effectively, but then back to back false start penalties backed them up and Matt Ryan threw a pick downfield.
The Chargers appeared to have ground to a halt on the ensuing drive, but as they did all day, they wound up finding room in the passing game and rolling down the field. The Falcons got the miraculous stop in the red zone to force the field goal, which made it 30-30.
Atlanta got the ball back with just 18 seconds left on the clock, and managed to move 36 yards before they turned it over to Matt Bryant for an impossibly long try, which he missed from 58 yards out. Then it was on to overtime.
The Falcons moved but then stalled out after getting the ball first, and wound up going for it on fourth and inches...and not getting it.
The Chargers then got into field goal range, kicker Josh Lambo drilled it home, and Atlanta lost their third game of the season. There will be a lot of tough conversations for the team tomorrow and throughout the week, and we’ll have to hope this proves to be somewhat of a fluke.