Cameron Dicker gives Chargers kick they need in comeback win over Falcons
ATLANTA — Before the game Sunday, he’s pretty sure very few players in his locker room knew his name.
Afterward, two of those total-stranger teammates were hoisting Cameron Dicker onto their shoulders in delirious triumph.
In what has to be one of the oddest, most spectacularly implausible moments in NFL history, Dicker kicked a game-winner for his second team in five weeks, lifting the Chargers past Atlanta 20-17.
“Very slim,” he said when asked of the chances of someone experiencing what he has recently. “I would not have thought I’d be here. Cool to have these opportunities to be able to go do my thing.”
Chargers edge Falcons with Cameron Dicker’s game-winning field goal
Cameron Dicker produced his second game-winning kick of the season for his second team Sunday, sending the Chargers to a 20-17 victory at Atlanta.
Dicker was filling in because the Chargers were down two kickers — Dustin Hopkins (hamstring) and Taylor Bertolet (quad) both injured.
He signed with the Chargers last week after kicking a game-winning field goal for Philadelphia in Week 5.
The boot rescued the Chargers, who nearly bobbled away their chance for victory in regulation.
They had third-and-four at the Atlanta 22-yard line in the final minute when Austin Ekeler ran over the left side for two yards before fumbling.
It was recovered by Falcons’ Ta’Quon Graham. But as he was returning the fumble, Graham dropped the ball and Chargers left guard Matt Feiler recovered at the Atlanta 43-yard line.
Justin Herbert then hit Joshua Palmer for a 22-yard gain, putting the Chargers back in field goal range.
Dicker’s winner came on the game’s final play.
The Chargers improved to 5-3. They are at San Francisco next weekend.
Cameron Dicker’s 31-yard field goal pulls the Chargers even with Falcons
Cameron Dicker’s 31-yard field goal pulled the Chargers even with Atlanta 17-17 with 5:27 remaining in regulation.
The Chargers went 47 yards on 14 plays on the possession.
They appeared to score a touchdown seven plays earlier when Austin Ekeler, after receiving a pass, rolled over on top of Atlanta cornerback Isaiah Oliver, regained his feet and ran 37 yards into the end zone.
The play was reviewed via video and the determination was that Ekeler’s left elbow hit the turf while Oliver was trying to bring him down.
Falcons regain lead after Chargers turnover late in the third quarter
Atlanta came back to retake the lead — 17-14 — on a three-yard touchdown run by Cordarrelle Patterson with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Patterson scored his second touchdown of the game by running over Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill before lunging across the goal line.
The Falcons took possession near midfield on a Justin Herbert interception on a ball that went through the hands of wide receiver Joshua Palmer, popping up and into the arms of safety Richie Grant.
Justin Herbert’s one-yard touchdown pass to Austin Ekeler puts Chargers in lead
Austin Ekeler caught a one-yard pass from Justin Herbert for his second touchdown of the day as the Chargers took a 14-10 lead with 32 remaining before halftime.
Herbert was six of eight for 46 yards during the 10-play series that covered 63 yards.
The Chargers’ offense bounced back impressively after opening the game with consecutive three-and-outs.
The defense also rose up after surrendering points on Atlanta’s first two possessions.
Sacks by Drue Tranquill and Derwin James Jr. ended back-to-back series, allowing the Chargers to take their first lead.
Austin Ekeler puts Chargers on the board
Austin Ekeler scored on a two-yard touchdown run to pull the Chargers to within 10-7 with 4:38 remaining in the first half.
The Chargers broke through against Atlanta with a 15-play, 83-yard drive.
They converted four third downs — each on a Justin Herbert pass — and overcame a false start penalty on Sony Michel and a face-masking call on Trey Pipkins III.
Herbert was eight of nine for 82 yards during the series.
Chargers come out empty on first drive as Falcons extend lead in the first quarter
Atlanta extended its lead to 10-0 on a 29-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo with 52 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
After the Chargers’ offense went three and out on its first possession, the Falcons consumed nearly 8 1/2 minutes with a 14-play drive that stalled in the red zone.
Drue Tranquill and Christian Covington teamed up for a first-down tackle for loss on Atlanta running back Caleb Huntley to help slow Atlanta.
The Falcons have 92 rushing yards through their first two series. The Chargers have yet to run the ball.
Falcons score on opening drive to go up first
Atlanta made the Chargers’ suspect defense look bad again on the game’s opening drive, going 75 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead.
The big play of the series was another long run surrendered, Tyler Allgeier going 44 yards on the Falcons’ third play from scrimmage.
The Chargers’ defense has been burned repeatedly this season by long runs. They have now given up five runs of at least 41 yards.
Cordarrelle Patterson scored the touchdown on a one-yard run.
Depleted Chargers clash with Falcons in struggle against mediocrity
There’s no question about that.
There is, however, another question to ponder at the moment:
Are the Chargers actually that good?
“You’re trying to figure it out, too, huh?” running back Austin Ekeler said, smiling. “I guess we’ll find out. I’m not sure if anyone knows right now.”
Chargers inactives vs. Falcons
The Chargers’ inactives for the game today in Atlanta are wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (ankle), defensive linemen Jerry Tillery (back), kicker Dustin Hopkins (hamstring), edge rusher Chris Rumph II (knee), defensive back Kemon Hall and quarterback Easton Stick.
Wide receiver DeAndre Carter is active. He was questionable because of an illness that limited him in practice Friday.
How next three games, injury returns affect Chargers’ playoff chances
They had won three in a row before serving up an uninspired performance for their second ugly home loss — after falling 38-10 to Jacksonville in Week 3 — of the season.
At 4-3, the Chargers visit first-place Atlanta on Sunday before traveling to play at San Francisco and then meeting Kansas City at SoFi Stadium.
These next three games could dramatically impact where the 2022 season goes for a team that was expected to contend for a playoff berth.
Chargers vs. Atlanta Falcons matchups, how to watch and prediction
Breaking down how the Chargers (4-3) and the Atlanta Falcons (4-4) match up heading into their game at 10 a.m. PST on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The game will be shown on Fox (Channel 11) and streamed on NFL+.
When Chargers have the ball
By many measures, quarterback Justin Herbert has had his three least productive performances of the season over the last four games. The Chargers’ offense hasn’t been as efficient or explosive as Herbert and several players deal with injuries.
In Atlanta, they will face a defense that offers the possibility of improved health. The Falcons rank last in the NFL against the pass and next-to-last in yards yielded per play. They’ve given up at least 300 yards passing to Joe Burrow, Tom Brady, P.J. Walker and Geno Smith. Burrow smoked Atlanta for 481 yards and three touchdowns.
Of course, the Cincinnati quarterback had his top receivers that day. Herbert will be without Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (ankle). Over their last two-plus games, the Chargers have scored only four touchdowns on 27 possessions.
Chargers vs. Atlanta Falcons: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread
The Chargers draw a 10 a.m. PST kickoff in their return from the bye against the first-place Atlanta Falcons. It seems weird to say that, but Atlanta’s offense under head coach Arthur Smith has improved by leaps and bounds this season. The defense has not, but the ongoing Chargers injury issues may limit the team yet again.
Mike Williams remains on the shelf with a high ankle sprain and Keenan Allen suffered a setback during the bye week that will either severely limit him or knock him out of action altogether. Against a Falcons defense that ranks 31st by the popular DVOA metric from Football Outsiders, this was supposed to be a golden opportunity for the offense to get right, but it seems that won’t be the case. Josh Palmer and Donald Parham are also just coming out of concussion protocol.