In a surprising turn of events, the Chargers (3-4) have found their first winning streak since 2014, and the season is still alive. After traveling cross-country, the Chargers came back from a 17-point deficit to stun the first place Atlanta Falcons (4-3) in overtime for a 33-30 victory.
Melvin Gordon had three touchdowns, Joey Bosa had two sacks and Denzel Perryman had a fourth quarter interception, and a fourth down stop in overtime as the young players stepped up and won the game for the Bolts.
On the first drive of the game, the Chargers made it look easy getting a big play early on a 49-yard reception by Tyrell Williams, getting all the way to the Falcons 10-yard line. Melvin Gordon would punch it in from the 2-yard line, his seventh rushing touchdown of the year, and the Chargers would score their fourth opening-drive touchdown of the season.
After the Falcons kicked a field goal on their first drive, the Chargers would make their first mistake of the game. Philip Rivers threw a rushed pass to Dexter McCluster that bounced off his hands into the arms of Deion Jones who returned it to the San Diego 10-yard line. The Chargers defense would force a field goal after giving up only a yard, to make the score 7-6.
After the Bolts added a field goal to their lead Atlanta answered back on a 3rd-and-13 Matt Ryan found tight end Jacob Tamme for a 17-yard touchdown, capping off a 75-yard drive.
This seemed to be a turning point in the game as the Falcons would force a quick punt by the Chargers, before needing only four plays to score another touchdown, to make the score 20-10.
They kept the momentum going when they sacked Philip Rivers on consecutive plays, the latter resulting in sack-fumble which was scooped up by defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn who returned it for a touchdown. Just like that, the Chargers 4-point lead had turned into a 17-point deficit in the blink of an eye.
Sensing the game slipping away an urgent Philip Rivers would answer before the half, leading the Bolts down the field sparked by big plays by Hunter Henry and Travis Benjamin. They would add a second Melvin Gordon rushing touchdown to stop the bleeding and make it 27-17 going into halftime.
The Chargers defense had allowed Julio Jones to go off for 104 yards in the first half but did enough to not let the game get totally out of hand.
The second half started slow, but the Chargers struck first with a 37-yard field goal by Josh Lambo and that would be the only points of the third quarter. The Falcons would answer that with a field goal of their own on the following drive to make the score 30-20, these would be Atlanta’s last points.
The Chargers kept the Falcons offense off of the field using a 15-play drive using 7:43 of the clock to score again on Melvin Gordon’s third touchdown of the game, this one coming on a 5-yard catch to give him a league-leading ten total touchdowns. The Bolts were down only three and were in full comeback mode but they needed another defensive stop.
On the next drive the Falcons tried to ice the game with a long drive and started well with a 21-yard reception by Julio Jones, but after getting into Chargers territory they were backed up by consecutive holding calls to push them to midfield. On first and long the Chargers prayers were answered when Denzel Perryman intercepted a long Matt Ryan pass to give the ball back to the Chargers down three with 3:26 remaining.
The Chargers were challenged early facing a 4th-and-2 and Mike McCoy made the decision to go for it, and Rivers found his security blanket, Antonio Gates, on a quick pass for three yards to keep the drive going. Melvin Gordon made another great play with the Chargers facing a third and short when he bounced off a tackle at the line of scrimmage before reversing field and picking up 13 yards. The Chargers thought they had the game won on third down of the next series when Philip Rivers threw a strike to Gates on the goal line, but the ball was jarred loose, but the Chargers would tie it with a field goal and only 18 seconds to go.
Atlanta gave the Chargers a scare after getting close enough for a 58-yard field goal attempt but Matt Bryant missed his first field goal of the season, hitting the upright to send the game to overtime.
After receiving the ball first the Falcons took a huge risk by going for it on 4th-and-1 from their own 45-yard line, and the Chargers were not fooled. Denzel Perryman sliced through the line of scrimmage dragging Devonte Freeman down for a loss and all but securing a victory.
The Chargers used a couple of physical runs by Melvin Gordon runs and a big catch by Gates to get the ball to the Atlanta 22-yard line. Josh Lambo nailed the 42-yard game-winning field goal to complete the comeback.
The Chargers succeeded in changing the outlook of their season by beating two good teams in as many weeks and closed out another close game. They still have a long way to go, but they look like a very dangerous team that could beat anyone left on their schedule.
The Chargers will carry this momentum into Mile High Stadium to face off with the Broncos again for the second time in three weeks Sunday, October 30th at 1:25 PM Pacific Time and the Bolts will try to extend their winning streak to three.