Why Chargers wild hot potato finish, win over Falcons was ‘weird’ but also very poetic

By | November 6, 2022

Would you expect anything else out of an ending between the Chargers and the Falcons?

Both squads have been involved in wild finishes this season, and the two teams delivered one in their Week 9 matchup on Sunday. Austin Ekeler fumbled the ball trying to add more yards with Los Angeles already in field goal range in the waning seconds of the game, only to cough up the ball and give it to the Falcons. However, before Ta’Quon Graham could get down, he fumbled the football and gave it right back to the Chargers still in Los Angeles territory.

Two quick passes later and the Chargers were back in field goal range, and this time, sent Cameron Dicker out to kick the game-winning field goal in the team’s 20-17 victory.

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The Chargers had the ball at the Falcons’ 22-yard line with 46 seconds left in the game, already in field-goal range, but needing one more play for the kick to go through the uprights as time expires. Ekeler darted left and appeared to be a yard shy of the marker on the third-and-4 run, but he had the ball knocked loose by Rashad Evans. 

Graham, a defensive linemen, picked up the ball at the Falcons’ 17 and began to run it back before dropping it — without being touched — at the Falcons’ 36. Justin Herbert tackled Graham as he tried to turn around and grab the ball, and by the time he looked up, Matt Feiler had fallen down on the ball and downed it at the Falcons’ 43.

After a review of the play, officials ruled that Ekeler was not down when he fumbled the football and the wild play stayed on the board. Herbert hit Joshua Palmer for a 22-yard gain, and Ekeler carried for two more yards to set Dicker up for the game-winning 37-yard field goal to give the Chargers their fifth win of the season.

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Herbert praised his team for not giving up on the play after the fumble and for Feiler running out to recover the fumble during what could have been a disastrous moment for the Chargers.

“It’s huge for him, for an offensive linemen to have that awareness to be able to get on the ball, you know that’s not an easy job, so a lot of props to him,” Herbert said. “I was going to make the tackle. I think I dove at his legs and saw that he didn’t have the ball and realized that it came out and we got the ball. So it was kind of a weird couple of moments, but wasn’t going to give up on the play so I was glad that I was there.”

Sure, it was ‘weird.’ But it was also exactly an ending fitting of the Chargers and Falcons’ seasons.

These two teams have each had their share of bizarre endings. Against the Browns in Week 5, Brandon Staley kept the offense out on the field in the final two minutes of play to try and pick up a fourth-and-2 despite being on their own side of the field. They didn’t convert on the first down, putting the Browns a play or two away from field-goal range trailing 30-28. But Browns QB Jacoby Brissett threw a pick to seal the game.

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The Falcons were just involved in a wild finish last week, when the Panthers appeared to score the game-winning touchdown, only for the contest to go to overtime after a missed point-after try. The Panthers then missed a potential game-winning overtime field goal, and the Falcons wound up winning the game to take the NFC South lead. In the first week of the season, Atlanta found a way to blow a 16-point fourth-quarter lead to the Saints.

The NFL always has its fair share of thrilling moments throughout a week. The Chargers and Falcons, in particular, just like to make sure viewers are always on their toes.

Poetry in motion.