Chargers-Falcons: Matt Ryan and Company Edge Past San Diego

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst INovember 30, 2008


Simply put, they will kill any professional football team in any game. That is exactly what happened to the Falcons on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers as they squeaked out a 22-16 victory.

The Falcons did everything possible to try and give San Diego chances to pull ahead and to win the contest. Whether it was by a muffed punt or a questionable fumble call, Atlanta managed to escape the sandy beaches of southern California with a win.

The Falcons started off locked-and-loaded in the first quarter by driving down the field on their very first possession. However, after an overthrown pass to Michael Jenkins in the endzone, they had to settle for a field goal.

Flashes of the Chicago Bears game came into my mind. "Don't settle for three, don't settle for three." I thought to myself.

Missed opportunity after missed opportunity piled up as San Diego continued to capitalize on a muffed punt by specialist Harry Douglas. They also took advantage of a highly questionable Michael Turner fumble.

The biggest blow to the Falcons was an 86-yard fumble recovery by Eric Weddle for a touchdown after a Brian Finneran fumble. Yet again, another questionable call. To me, it did not look as if he maintained possession, but that's why we have officials:

To add further controversy.

The game was hanging in the balance until Matt Ryan stepped in and shut the door on San Diego as he drove down the field and capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown strike to Harry Douglas.

Ryan finished the day with a very respectable and efficient 17-for-23 passes completed with just over 200 yards passing and two touchdowns. He is quickly cementing himself as the unanimous Rookie of the Year with consistently high rated performances.

He was not forced to be the hero of the game. That honor fell on the broad shoulders of Atlanta's newest acquisition, Michael Turner. 

Obviously it must have been an emotional day for the former fullback as he was noticeably quiet and determined in pre-game warmups. The man known as "The Burner" seemed to be all business this Sunday.

He was held out of the endzone on a gutsy goal line defense by San Diego just before the end of the first half. Despite this shortcoming, Turner managed a great game on the ground by racking up 120 yards and clearly outperforming his old teammate and NFL superstar LaDanian Tomlinson.

With this win the Falcons kept pace in the NFC South as Tampa Bay and Carolina both generated victories of their own. Now the Falcons face the Saints once again as they go to New Orleans.

Also, once again a trap game could be in the midst as a huge clash against Tampa Bay looms in the week afterwards. With that win it could be a very cloudy picture on who exactly is the best team in the NFC South.