Takeaway Chargers-Falcons: Joshua Palmer receives the spotlight

The Chargers improved to 5-3 on Sunday with a 20-17 win over Atlanta over a 37-yard field goal from Cameron Dicker.

Observations from a slightly insane ending that saw both teams fumble in the last 45 seconds:

DOWN BIG YET AGAIN: For the fourth straight game, the Chargers fell double digits in the first quarter. The Falcons scored on their first two possessions 10-0 after 15 minutes.

The Chargers were beaten 51-3 in the last four first quarters.

“Yeah, we like being 10-0,” said linebacker Drue Tranquill, smiling. “We like to take it the hard way.”

Atlanta produced the first nine first downs of the game and had a 145-16 lead in total yards after a quarter.

Tranquill said slow starts don’t have a common thread: penalties one week, race defense another week, etc. He rejected the suggestion that the Chargers weren’t prepared.

“I don’t think there’s anything you can spot,” he said. “I certainly don’t think we’re not ready to play.”

After struggling early, the Chargers only conceded to the Falcons seven more points on their last seven holdings. Four of those series ended with three and without.

“I like the way we’ve made changes,” said Tranquill, “and we’ve kept ourselves in the game.”

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Despite recent initial deficits, the Chargers returned to winning three of those four games. They have also won three away games in a row after going 4-4 ​​away from SoFi Stadium in 2021.

They returned twice on Sunday, falling behind again 17-14 at the end of the third quarter.

The Falcons’ second touchdown came on a three-yard bull run by Cordarrelle Patterson, who reached the end zone after plowing Tranquill, the NFL equivalent of being “posterized” to a dunk in basketball.

“Damn, hey, you got me, man!” Tranquillo said. “Hey, you got me. He’s got his head down, though, so he’s gonna get a nice fine [from the league] sitting in his locker. But he has me, and everyone gets caught. I’m not going to live it down. “

The resurgence of defense in the second quarter was highlighted by the layoffs of Tranquill and Derwin James Jr., which forced the Falcons to back-to-back holdings.

“Our boys just got settled,” said coach Brandon Staley. “I felt like our guys were really communicating, they stayed in touch and after that we did a good tackling job and we kept the ball in front of us.”

Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) grabs the shirt of Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer (5).

Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) grabs Joshua Palmer’s shirt (5) after the Chargers catcher takes a hold.

(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

COMING WHEN FINISHED: With Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (ankle) injured and out, Joshua Palmer emerged with perhaps his best NFL game, receiving eight passes for 106 yards.

“This was a real feature game for Josh,” said Staley. “I thought you saw the kind of receiver we think it is. He had his opportunities today and he really took them and ran with them.

Palmer said he spent part of Friday talking with Allen and Williams, the two veterans who helped him mentally prepare for his most important role.

“They just set the record straight,” Palmer said. “They said, ‘Yo, look, go show everyone what you can do because we know what you can do. There’s no reason you shouldn’t go out there and dominate. ‘ “

Asked what those words meant to him on Sunday, Palmer smiled and said, “They were right. They were right. “

LARGE MACK ATTACHMENT: Board veteran Khalil Mack produced one of the game’s most memorable moments when he reached and stole the ball from Atlanta Drake London’s wide catcher in the middle of the third quarter.

The game stopped Atlanta in the red zone, with Mack returning the fumble in midfield.

“That’s who it is,” Staley said. “He is one of the best ball producers this league has ever seen … What your special players do is that in games like this and in moments like this, they make the bets for you.”

Chargers defensive tackle Austin Johnson (98) is helped out of the field after being injured against the Atlanta Falcons.

Chargers defensive tackle Austin Johnson (98) is helped out of the field after being injured against the Atlanta Falcons.

(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

INJURIES NOTICE: The Chargers lost right tackle Trey Pipkins III and defensive lineman Austin Johnson during the match.

Pipkins aggravated a sprained left knee, Staley said. Johnson also suffered a knee injury.

After the game, Staley said he has no immediate updates on any of the players.

IN HIS WORDS: Tranquill on the defensive line of Atlanta Ta’Quon Graham fumbling with the ball to the Chargers in the fourth quarter: “I don’t know what really happened. It looked like the boy had never brought a soccer ball into his life. “