Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan used to be the master of the fourth-quarter comeback.

But in his 13th season, he seems to have lose some of his magic.

After Ryan’s third interception Sunday, Los Angeles kicker Michael Badgley made a 43-yard field goal at the buzzer to defeat the Falcons 20-17 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

“That’s on me,” Ryan said of his third pick. “I’ve got to make a better throw. Put it high and away on the sideline to give Calvin (Ridley) a chance. It was just a poor throw.”

Ryan, who has 30 career fourth-quarter comebacks and 38 game-winning drives, was out-played by Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.

Ryan completed 21 of 32 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 57.3.

Herbert, the sixth player taken in the 2020 draft out of Oregon, completed 36 of 44 passes for 243 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He finished with a passer rating of 95.4.

After Ryan’s third interception by Chargers cornerback Michael Davis, Herbert tossed completions of 15-yards to tight end Hunter Henry and a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Tyron Johnson to get the Chargers into field-goal range.

After a 1-yard run by Kalen Ballage, Badgley came on for the kick.

“We were close to our line (for field goals),” Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said. “We put the ball in our best player’s hand. We expect him to make those plays. He expects to make those plays.”

The Chargers, behind Herbert and running back Austin Ekeler’s 146 yards from scrimmage, improved to 4-9, while the Falcons, who were favored to win, dropped to 4-9. Ekeler had 79 yards rushing and 67 receiving mostly on screen passes that the Falcons couldn’t stop.

Here are five things we learned from the loss:

1. Razzle dazzle. Thanks to some clock mismanagement and a razzle-dazzle touchdown pass, the Falcons held a 17-10 lead at halftime.

The Falcons opened the game with a three-and-out, the Chargers put together a 15-play, 83-yard touchdown drive on their opening possession. The Falcons were gashed for back-to-back runs for 13 yards by L.A.’s Ekeler during the drive.

The Chargers ran the ball nine times for 46 yards before Herbert tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keenan Allen.

The Falcons answered quickly.

Wide receiver Russell Gage stood in at quarterback as Matt Ryan flanked out at wide receiver. Gage took the snap, rolled to his right for three steps and then tossed a wobbly 39-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley. Gage had thrown a pass earlier in the season against Dallas, but wide receiver Julio Jones dropped it.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

After the defense got a stop, the Falcons stalled in the red zone again. Kicker Younghoe Koo made a 45-yard field goal to put the Falcons up 10-7.

The Chargers answered with a wicked looking 35-yard field goal by Badgley to make it 10-10.

The Falcons put together a crisp 8-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass to backup wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. It was Treadwell’s first catch with the team.

The former first-round pick by the Vikings was active for just his second game after spending most of the season on the practice squad. With Julio Jones out with a hamstring injury, the Falcons needed some depth at wide receiver. The score put the Falcons up 17-10.

The Chargers were driving before the half, but ran the ball with the clock winding down and couldn’t get their field goal unit on the field in time. With a 10-second run off after a too-many-men-on-the-field penalty, the half was over.

2. Interceptions by Ryan. In third quarter, Ryan had a costly interception and tossed two more in the fourth quarter.

He tried to connect with Ridley on a deep route, but was intercepted by Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins in the third quarter.

The Chargers answered with a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Herbert tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Johnson to tie the game 17-17 with 1:10 to play in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter on third down-and-1 from the Chargers 38, the Falcons tried to run a screen, but Ryan was called for intentional grounding when running Todd Gurley ran the wrong route. The loss of 10 yard and loss of down force the Falcons to punt the ball back to the Chargers.

The Falcons’ defense forced a punt and Ryan was back in business with 8:54 to play. He drove the Falcons within Koo’s field-goal range, but his pass on second down-and-17 from the Chargers’ 26 was intercepted by Chargers safety Jahleel Addae.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Herbert drove the Chargers to Atlanta’s 45 before cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson intercepted a pass intended for Allen with 47 seconds left.

The Falcons were driving before Ryan tossed his third interception to Davis.

“It’s (terrible),” Gage said. “We’re professionals. We have to move on. We have to understand, even if that game had went our way we would have to move on regardless.”

3. Ryan’s pass numbers. With 207 yards passing against the Chargers on Sunday, Ryan (54,662) surpassed Peyton Manning (54,828) for most yards passing in a player’s first 13 seasons in NFL history.

Ryan holds 21 franchise records including most passing yards, completions (4,756), highest completion percentage (65.5%) and touchdowns (339).

“It’s always nice to be in the same sentence as Peyton,” Ryan said. “He’s one of the best to do it of all-time. It’s always disappointing when things like this happen when you don’t get the job done. I’m proud of everything that I’ve accomplished in the 13 years, but really disappointed with today.”

4. Ridley joins 1,000-yard club. Ridley made his fourth catch to put him at 95 yards in the second quarter. That gave him 1,000 yards receiving on 63 catches for the season.

In addition to the 39-yard touchdown catch from Gage, Ridley had catches of 32 and 19 yards.

He finished with eight catches for 124 yards. He was injured on his seventh catch after picking up a third-and-11 in the fourth quarter. He returned to the game.

“I just wanted 1,000 because that’s what all the big name receivers do,” Ridley said. “Although, I wanted a 1,000, I know I can get 1,500. I can do a lot of numbers, but the 1,000 was just to say I did it for real. Get them yards.”

5. Injury report: Falcons rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson suffered a knee injury and did not return to the game.

Falcons’ final three games

Buccaneers at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20

Falcons at Chiefs at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 27

Falcons at Buccaneers at 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 3

The Bow Tie Chronicles Podcasts:

For more content about the Atlanta Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution