5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Chargers

It was a throwback day for the Falcons, who donned their old black jerseys.

The collapse had old-school Falcons written all over it as they blew two double-digit leads and got stuffed on a fourth-down gamble in overtime.

San Diego rallied to defeat the Falcons 33-30 before a late-arriving crowd of 69,832 on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

“This stinks today for our team,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “We want to pride ourselves in being very aggressive in all three phases and we certainly had our (opportunities) to finish today and we fell short of that.”

The Falcons had leads of 27-10 and 30-20, but couldn’t close out the game, and for the second week in a row an untimely interception by quarterback Matt Ryan led to a defeat.

The Falcons dropped to 4-3 with the loss, while the Chargers improved to 3-4.

Here are the five things we learned:

1. Gamble backfires. Ryan tossed a 21-yard pass to Julio Jones with just under six minutes to play to go over 200 yards passing for the 46th consecutive game, an NFL record. Ryan was tied with Dan Fouts with 45 games.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has an active streak of 41 games.

With the Falcons holding precariously to a late lead, for the second week in a row, Ryan tossed a late-game interception.

The Chargers then drove to tie the game on a 33-yard field goal by Josh Lambo with 16 seconds left to play.

Matt Bryant’s 58-yard field-goal attempt from the right hash mark at the end of regulation was just short and off to the left.

Ryan completed 22 of 34 passes for 273 yards, a touchdown and a fourth-quarter interception.

The Falcons won the toss, but running back Devonta Freeman was stuffed by Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman one fourth-and-1 from Atlanta’s 45-yard line in a wicked gamble Quinn, a second-year head coach.

“We had a real belief that we were going to make it and keep the drive going and keep extending with it,” Quinn said. “It was just a gut feeling that I went with … it was more of a mindset.”

Lambo’s 43-yard field goal with 9:01 left in overtime won the game for San Diego.

2. Offense stalls early and late. The Falcons drove 51 yards to the Chargers' 24 before stalling on their opening drive. On their second possession, following Deion Jones' interception, the Falcons had the ball on San Diego's 10, but could only pick up a yard. Matt Bryant's 27-yard field goal made it 7-6.

“We had some opportunities to maybe put that game away earlier,” Ryan said. “We didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”

Ryan was intercepted last week in the Seattle game by Earl Thomas. The Seahawks converted the turnover into a game-winning field goal.

With the Falcons trying to protect a three-point lead, Ryan was intercepted by Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman with 3:32 to play at San Diego’s 35-yard line.

“Disappointing in that situation,” Ryan said. “It was a good play by them on the defensive side. Their linebacker peeled off the inside route and went outside. I saw it too late.”

The Chargers converted on a fourth down and third down as they drove to the Falcons’ 15-yard line.

After Robert Alford broke up a pass intended for Chargers tight end Antonio Gates in the end zone, the Chargers sent out the field goal unit to tie the game.

3. Second-quarter eruption. The Falcons trailed 10-6 with 13:29 left in the second quarter. The Falcons went on to score three touchdowns within five minutes to take a 17-point lead.

Ryan and Julio Jones jump-started the rally with a 50-yard pass play that moved the ball down to San Diego’s 14. The Falcons overcame a false-start penalty on right tackle Ryan Schraeder and a holding call on right guard Chris Chester when Ryan tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Tamme.

After the defense held the Chargers to a three-and-out, the Falcons drove 50 yards in four plays. Running back Tevin Coleman scored on a 30-yard touchdown run. After the extra point, the Falcons led 20-10 with 6:07 left.

On third-and-18 from San Diego’s 17, Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley beat San Diego right tackle Joe Barksdale for sack and strip of Philip Rivers. Defensive tackle Adrian Clayborn scooped up the ball at the 5-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. With 4:31 left in the second quarter, the Falcons had a 27-10 lead.

4. Coleman goes down. Coleman, who was having a strong game, sustained a hamstring injury in the third quarter. He was walking around without his helmet and talking to the training staff. He later left the field in the fourth quarter.

He rushed eight times for 64 yards and caught one pass for 10 yards.

5. Defense leaks yards, but makes plays. The Chargers opened the game with a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams got behind linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and broke loose for a 49-yard gain.

On the Chargers’ second possession, linebacker Deion Jones intercepted a pass intended for Chargers running back Dexter McCluster and returned it 42 yards to San Diego’s 10-yard line.

After giving up a field, the defense then received a sack-strip from Beasley that was scooped up by Clayborn and returned for a touchdown.

The pass rush came away with four sacks and six quarterback hits. Beasley had two sacks, Brooks Reed and Clayborn had a sack each.

“We were switching it up and that’s how we got the pressure,” Beasley said. “We were definitely trying to put our foot on the throat. We were trying to get as much pressure as we could, but Philip Rivers is a great quarterback.”

The Chargers were able to stay in the game by throwing passes underneath that helped them closed within 30-27 midway through the fourth period.

“There were times where I was supposed to rotate with it and I didn’t. But there are things that I learn from and we have to build from as a team and as a unit,” Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal said.