By Tim Peterson
(Inglewood) – Michael Badgley kicked a 43-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Chargers a 20-17 win over Atlanta Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers looked they were going to be the team on the wrong end of a game winning field goal when the Falcons’ Blidi Wreh-Wilson picked off Justin Herbert at the Atlanta 38 with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter. But after driving down into Charger territory Michael Davis stepped in front of a Matt Ryan pass at the LA 26 with just 31 seconds left.
After moving out to the 49 yard line Herbert hit on a 26-yard pass play to Tyron Johnson down to the Falcon 26. After a run for no gain, time out was called with three seconds left and Badgley trotted out for the game winner.
The Chargers were down 17-10 at the half but held the Falcons scoreless in the second half and rallied to win it.
The Chargers scored on their first possession. Keenan Allen was on the receiving end of a 10-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to cap a 15-play, 83-yard drive for a 7-0 lead.
The Falcons responded with a quick strike. Russell Gage Jr. stepped in for a play for Ryan and threw a 39-yard scoring strike to Calvin Ridley to tie it up with 21 seconds left in the first quarter.
On Atlanta’s next possession a 35-yard pass from Ryan to Gage Jr. set up a 45-yard field goal by Younghoe Kim to give the Falcons a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
A 76-yard kickoff return put the Chargers back on track. Badgley booted a 35-yarder to even it 10.
The Falcons answered right back with an 8-play, 75 yard drive. Ryan hooked up with Laquon Treadwell on a 10-yard pass to give the Birds a 17-10 lead with 4:51 left in the quarter.
The Chargers had a golden opportunity to put some points on the board at the end of the first half. But after calling their last time out with 22 seconds left Bellage ran the ball up the middle on third down and was stopped short of the first down with about 10 seconds left. The Chargers tried to rush Badgley out on the field for a field goal attempt but they weren’t set which led to a penalty and the clock ran out. The Falcons took the seven point lead into the half.
Later in the quarter LA put together a 13-play, 80-yard drive that Johnson completed with a 12-yard touchdown reception of a Herbert pass. The teams headed into the fourth quarter deadlocked at 17.
Late in the fourth the teams traded interceptions which ultimately led to Badgley’s winning three pointer.
For the Chargers Herbert completed 36 of 44 for 243 yards and two touchdowns and the one pick. Johnson had six catches for 55 yards and a score and Allen hauled in nine receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. Austin Ekeler led the rushing attack with 79 yards on 15 carries.
For the Falcons Ryan threw for 224 yards and a touchdown on 21 of 32 completions but was hurt by three interceptions. Ridley had eight catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“That was a heck of a last drive. Without Mike (Williams) and Keenan (Allen) on the field and missing the right side of his line, our young quarterback was able to move us into position to kick a field goal,” said Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn. “We shook off last week, worked our tails off all week and found a way to get the W. We didn’t let one game beat us twice.”
The Chargers improved to 4-9 with the win while the Falcons dropped to 4-9.
The Chargers will play the Raiders in Las Vegas Thursday night.