Falcons vs. Chargers: Passing Game Problems Resurface for San Diego in 27-3 Loss

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystSeptember 24, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers drops back to pass against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on September 23, 2012 in San Diego, California. The Falcons defeated the Chargers 27-3.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

It was a statement game. Either the San Diego Chargers were contenders and would hang with the Atlanta Falcons or they were pretenders and would lose in ugly fashion.

The latter happened Sunday when the Chargers turned the ball over four times, which included two interceptions by quarterback Philip Rivers.

The Falcons jumped on the Chargers early and by halftime it was 21-0. It didn’t seem to matter to the Falcons that Ryan Mathews and Antonio Gates played for the Chargers. The Chargers fell to 2-1, but are still in first place in the AFC West.

Unfortunately, we are now left wondering is San Diego is the team that beat up on Tennessee and took advantage of Oakland’s mistakes or the one that scored three points and was crushed by the high-powered offense of Atlanta which was coming off a short week.

The most disappointing thing was that Rivers tossed two interceptions and couldn’t get it going enough to score a single touchdown. Rivers struggled with interceptions last season and that’s not something Chargers fans wanted to see resurface.

The return of Mathews was a mild success, although it was tarnished by a fumble at the goal line that led to an Atlanta touchdown and put the Chargers down by two scores. Atlanta would drive 96 yards for a touchdown in 17 plays, and Ryan capped the drive with a short pass to Tony Gonzalez for the touchdown.

The game was so bad the Chargers pulled their banged-up starters late in the game and basically conceded the loss to the Falcons. The Chargers will hope to rebound next week against one of their division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, who knocked off the New Orleans Saints on the road in Week 3.

Pass defense was just as much of an issue as the pass offense for the Chargers. Matt Ryan completed 75 percent of his passes and connected with three different receivers for touchdowns. It should be to no one’s surprise that Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White produced most of the yards for Atlanta.

The turnovers hurt the Chargers, but San Diego’s defense couldn’t pick up the offense with a key stop when they needed it. The Falcons were so good that they also converted on 62 percent of their third-down chances.

The Falcons dominated the Chargers in just about every conceivable way and proved that the Chargers aren’t ready to run away with the AFC West. There just weren’t a lot of positives to take away from the game, and the Chargers will have to quickly move past them and hope the less-prolific passing offense in Kansas City is easier to stop.