Three seconds left on the clock. Michael Badgley entered the game attempting a 43-yard game-winning field goal putting the Chargers on the right side of a close contest for once.
As the kick split the uprights the Chargers sideline ran onto the field celebrating their fourth win of the season in a 20-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“A win in general in the NFL is big,” said Austin Ekeler. “Always feels good to get a win.”
Held to zero points in their previous game against the Patriots, one of the worst performances in Chargers history, the Bolts struck first. Eating 9 minutes and 33 seconds off the clock the drive was capped off with a Herbert 10- yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen.
“They shook off last week. Came back and worked their tails off,” said Head Coach Anthony Lynn.
Keenan Allen caught nine passes for 52-yards while entering the contest just five catches shy of reaching 95 receptions becoming the fourth player in NFL history with four consecutive campaigns of at least 95 receptions.
The Chargers fell back into reality after a quick start. Falcons Wide receiver Russell Gage lined up in shotgun formation as the quarterback on 3rd and 1. Gage dropped back and connected on a 39-yard touchdown pass to his position mate Calvin Ridley to tying the game at seven a piece.
All tied up at ten after field goals from Badgley and Koo, Matt Ryan drove the Falcons down the field on eight plays for 75-yards ending with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Laquon Treadwell for the 17-10 lead.
Right before the half, disaster occured for Anthony Lynn and his Chargers. Clock management has been an issue to maintain and once again showed it has yet to be controlled.
With 22 seconds left in the half and no timeouts, Lynn decided to run the ball with Kalen Ballage. While time continued ticking there seemed to be confusion between the sideline and the offense whether the play call would be a spike or a field goal.
As the clock expired Lynn decided to run the field goal unit on the field. The ball was spiked before the field goal unit could get set causing an illegal shift ten second runoff penalty ending the half.
“You can not run the ball in that situation,” said Lynn on the special teams debacle before the half. “That’s an area where we need to improve as a coaching staff and with communication.”
In the second half Los Angeles gained a much needed turnover from Rayshawn Jenkins intercepting Matt Ryan in the endzone. The Bolts capitalized on the turnover with a 13 play 85-yard drive ending with Herbert connecting to Tyron Johnson for a 12-yard touchdown pass tying the game at 17.
On a potential game winning drive with the game still tied, Matt Ryan was intercepted for a second time on the day by safety Jahleel Addae with just 3:46 left in regulation.
Seeming like a prime game winning drive for the Chargers, Justin Herbert made a costly throw that was intercepted by Blidi Wreh-Wilson with just 47 seconds left in regulation seeming like the game slipped through the Bolts fingertips.
But Los Angeles has their defense to thank for this win. With 31 seconds left Matt Ryan threw an interception right back to the Bolts picked off by Michael Davis.
“That’s something we wanted to improve on is creating turnovers,” emphasized Lynn.
“Sometimes NFL games are like that,” said Ekeler. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
In just 6 plays Herbert marched the offense 49 yards down the field with some spectacular passes setting up Michael Badgley for a game-winning 43-yard field goal.
The Chargers will close out their schedule with three straight division matchups. First Los Angeles will head to Las Vegas facing the Raiders Thursday night on a short week.