ATLANTA (AP)Cameron Dicker kicked a game-ending field goal three days after being signed as a free agent, hitting a 37-yarder that lifted the Los Angeles Chargers over the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 on Sunday.
Dicker also made a 31-yard field goal with 5:27 left, tying the game at 17. The rookie from Texas was signed to the practice squad Thursday and activated Sunday in place of injured Dustin Hopkins. This was only Dicker’s second NFL game – he also made a late, go-ahead kick for the Philadelphia Eagles as an injury replacement in Week 5.
The Chargers (5-3) survived a bizarre fumble by Austin Ekeler with 34 seconds remaining. Ekeler’s fumble was recovered by Falcons defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham, who also fumbled while returning the ball. Chargers left guard Matt Fieler recovered Graham’s frumble at the Atlanta 43.
Justin Herbert’s 22-yard pass to Joshua Palmer set up Dicker’s kick as time expired.
The loss prevented the Falcons (4-5), who began the day in first place in the NFC South, from moving above .500 for the first time since 2017.
Dicker’s 31-yarder came after an apparent go-ahead 37-yard touchdown reception by Ekeler was called back following a review. Officials on the field ruled Ekeler was not down when tackled by Isaiah Oliver but instead said he rolled over Oliver without touching the ground. The review showed Ekeler’s left elbow touched the turf.
Atlanta’s Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 44 yards and two touchdowns after missing four games following knee surgery. Rookie Tyler Allgeier set a career high with 99 yards as the Falcons ran for 201 yards.
Patterson ran over Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill on a 3-yard touchdown run that gave Atlanta a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. Patterson had a 1-yard scoring run on the Falcons’ opening drive.
With the Chargers leading 14-10, Atlanta was driving for a possible go-ahead touchdown on its first possession of the third quarter when Marcus Mariota completed a pass to rookie Drake London. Linebacker Khalil Mack took the ball from London at the Los Angeles 7 and returned the fumble 43 yards.
Three plays later, Falcons safety Richie Grant intercepted a deflected pass intended for Joshua Palmer.
The Falcons had four players, including Mariota, run for at least 250 yards over the first four games, setting an NFL record. The depth at running back allowed the Falcons to avoid overworking Patterson in his first game off IR.
Allgeier had a 44-yard run on the opening drive for Atlanta’s longest run of the season.
Chargers: DT Austin Johnson was carted off with a knee injury at the end of the third quarter. … LT Trey Pipkins III left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent leg injury.
Falcons: TE Feleipe Franks was ruled out with a calf injury at the start of the second half. … RG Chris Lindstrom was accompanied to the locker room with a knee injury in the third quarter. Colby Gossett replaced Lindstrom.
Chargers: Play at San Francisco next Sunday in the first meeting between the teams since 2018, when the Chargers won 29-27 for their fifth straight win in the series.
Falcons: Face Carolina for the second time in three week when they visit the Panthers on Sunday. Atlanta took a 37-34 overtime home win over Carolina on Oct. 30.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL