The Atlanta Falcons couldn’t quite get out of their own way at times on Sunday, as they fell to the Los Angeles Chargers 20-17. The loss drops them to 4-5, and they have yet again failed to earn a winning record on the season.
It was one of the more up-and-down performances of the season for Atlanta, which had multiple moments to greatly increase its chances to win the game but failed to capitalize. To pull one example: Penalties negated a touchdown run by Cordarrelle Patterson, which then led to a fumble by Drake London. This is a frustrating loss for a team looking to make a surprise playoff push, and there were many times when things could have gone differently.
A tale of two quarters
The Falcons dominated the opening quarter of the game, but it was the Chargers who stole the momentum before the second half. Atlanta received the opening kickoff and didn’t waste the opportunity to take a 7-0 lead behind some excellent running by Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier.
Covering 75 yards in 8 plays, including a 44-yard run by Allgeier, the Falcons asserted themselves early on offense and followed that up on defense. Atlanta forced a three-and-out on the Chargers’ only real possession of the first quarter and turned that next opportunity into a field goal. Unfortunately, that 10-point lead wouldn’t hold up to the gale-force winds blowing in from the West.
The Chargers flipped the script on third down, converting all six of their attempts in the second quarter, and ripped off 14 unanswered points to take the lead heading into the half. Los Angeles has scored 86 points in the second quarter this season, which trails only the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Chargers kept that late-check-in momentum rolling.
Cordarrelle Patterson scores on first drive in his return
It was a welcome sight to see No. 84 in the backfield again for Atlanta. Seriously, someone take out his career Nintendo® cartridge, blow on it and plug that bad boy back in there, because it’s insane that he’s not been more prolific in his 10-year NFL career. Patterson accounted for 19 yards on the opening possession and scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Patterson really made his presence felt late in the third quarter. On a third-and-3 at the goal line, Patterson took the hand-off right up the middle and bowled straight over Drue Tranquill to score his second touchdown of the game. The Falcons needed that.
Drake London’s “welcome to the NFL” moment
The Falcons were driving on their first possession of the second half. On the 10th play of a drive that also saw a 38-yard touchdown run by Patterson nullified by multiple offensive penalties, London caught a pass that would have given the Falcons a first down inside of the Chargers’ 10-yard line. As he was fighting for extra yardage, however, London was stripped of the football by All-Pro Khalil Mack.
London has been superb to start his career with the Falcons, albeit not exceptionally productive. He excelled in creating yards after the catch during his college career at USC, but this was an occasion where he might have been better served to duck out of bounds. It was a learning moment that some of the best of the best in this league can make a play at any given time.
Tyler Allgeier continues to shine in complementary role
While Patterson was sidelined with his injury, Allgeier got a big dose of the workload alongside Caleb Huntley. However, Allgeier wasn’t really the star of the show during that time, ceding some of the spotlight to Huntley’s hard running. On Sunday, Allgeier was the golden second-fiddle, though. He started things early with a 44-yard run on the opening drive and continued that pace for much of the action.
Allgeier entered the game with 84 carries for 324 yards and one touchdown. He put together a career-best day, gaining 123 yards on 11 touches. Unfortunately, the Falcons couldn’t make the most of it.
Marcus Mariota’s off day
There were some really solid intermediate throws from Mariota on Sunday, but it was decidedly one of his worst afternoons throwing the football, especially deep. That notion was marked with a bullet late in the fourth quarter when Mariota overshot a wide-open Kyle Pitts for what would have been the go-ahead touchdown with under five minutes remaining.
While there were miscues from receivers on the day, Mariota was a touch long with most of his throws on Sunday afternoon, which won’t do anything to quell the calls for Desmond Ridder to get his shot as the starting quarterback. He finished the game 12-of-23 for 129 yards and several memorable misses.
Ta’Quon Graham lets opportunity slip away
It looked like the Falcons would miraculously pull another Houdini trick and escape at the last moment when Ekeler fumbled the ball and Ta’Quon Graham picked it up and began running the other way. However, without even being touched by a Chargers player, Graham lost control of the ball near the Falcons’ 40-yard line.
The Chargers regained possession at the 43-yard line, and it took all of one play before they moved back into field goal range to eventually win it. In a game defined by missed opportunities, this was the exclamation point.