San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers (17). Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
ATLANTA -- It took a comeback and overtime, but the San Diego Chargers have consecutive wins for the first time since November of the 2014 season.
Josh Lambo kicked a 42-yard field goal six minutes into OT for the 33-30 victory over Atlanta on Sunday after Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman stopped Devonta Freeman for a loss on fourth-and-1 from the Falcons' 45-yard line on the first possession of the extra period.
"Just a gut feeling I had," said Falcons coach Dan Quinn of the decision to go for it. "Go be aggressive and get that half yard that we needed. When we didn't get it, that was (the loss)."
The Chargers, down by 17 points in the second quarter, had tied it on a 33-yard field goal by Lambo with 18 seconds remaining in regulation after Matt Ryan was intercepted by Perryman, who made the two biggest plays of the game for the Chargers despite being bothered by a sore shoulder.
The interception was a mistake by Ryan on a bad throw. The stop of Freeman was being in the right place at the right time.
"It was just instincts," Perryman said. "On fourth-and-one, it was a no-brainer that they were going to run the ball. The d-line did their job and I did my job. I just got nice and low and shot the gap. The linemen couldn't get his hands on me and I just got Freeman's leg and hung on."
"I just thought we had a good shot," Quinn said. "We didn't execute like we can. We like the call; we just didn't execute. They made a good play too. I have to give them credit as well."
The Falcons had a chance to avoid overtime after a pair of completions from Ryan to Julio Jones, but Matt Bryant hit the left upright on a 58-yard field-goal attempt.
Philip Rivers' 5-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter climaxed a 15-play, 75-yard drive that got the Chargers within three points.
It was just the second victory on the road for the Chargers (3-4) in their past 13 road games and was the second consecutive narrow loss for the Falcons (4-3) after a four-game winning streak.
The Falcons lost the opening game of the season in overtime at Kansas City and then couldn't hold on in close losses at Indianapolis and Oakland.
"The message this week was that we've got to go on the road and win," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "We hadn't finished the other games on the road this year. To get where you want to go, you've got to go on the road and beat good football teams."
Rivers completed 27 of 44 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown, while Ryan was 22 of 34 for 273 yards and a score. Each was intercepted once.
It was 46th consecutive game that Ryan had pass for more than 200 yards -- setting an NFL record. He had been tied with former Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts.
The Falcons, though, were held in check after halftime.
"The defense held them to three points in the second half, which is tough to do," Rivers said.
Gordon, meanwhile, had three touchdowns while rushing for 63 yards on 22 carries and catching six passes for 58 more yards.
The Chargers elected to receive rather than defer to the second half after winning the toss and the move paid off as Gordon scored on a 2-yard run after Rivers connected with Tyrell Williams for 49 yards.
The Falcons, though, wiped out a 10-6 deficit by scoring three touchdowns within five minutes of the second quarter.
Ryan connected with Jacob Tamme for a 17-yard touchdown after a 50-yard pass to Jones, Tevin Coleman had a 30-yard run for touchdown after the Falcons were given good field position after a botched Chargers kickoff return and Adrian Clayborn scored on a 5-yard fumble return after Rivers fumbled while being sacked by Vic Beasley Jr.
The Chargers got back within 27-17 at halftime on Gordon's 3-yard touchdown run with a minute left in the second quarter.
Bryant hit from 42 and 27 yards in the first quarter and had a 31-yarder early in the fourth. Lambo connected from 40 yards early in the second quarter and from 37 yards in the third.
Tevin Coleman, part of the Falcons' one-two punch with Freeman, suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter and didn't return. He had 64 yards in 10 carries and caught a pass for 10 more yards.
NOTES: Chargers CB Craig Mager suffered a concussion in the third quarter while making a tackle. He was starting for CB Brandon Flowers, who missed his fourth game because of a concussion. ... The Chargers lost DT Caraun Reid to a left knee injury in the first quarter when he was hit by a teammate. ... CB Jalen Collins made his season debut for the Falcons in a limited role after the 2015 second-round draft choice was suspended for the first four games and inactive for the next two. ... The Falcons wore black throwback jerseys with white pants and their original logo on the black helmets. ... Former President Jimmy Carter flipped the coin on the opening toss. ... LB Chris Landrum was promoted from the practice squad by the Chargers with LB Jeremiah Attaochu (ankle) out. ... It was just the 10th time the teams had played, with the Chargers' last trip to Atlanta coming in 2004.