Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert, wide receiver Deandre Carter, linebacker Drue Tranquill and others after the Bolts Week 9 win over the Falcons:
Palmer, Carter thrive in road victory
In a game where the Chargers entered without their top two receiving targets in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the team needed a collective effort on offense to leave Atlanta with a win.
They did just that enroute to a thrilling 20-17 walk-off win on the road.
Wide receiver Joshua Palmer stepped up in a big way, finishing the game with eight receptions for 106 yards. It was his first 100-yard receiving game as a pro.
After the game, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley spoke about the Chargers 2021 third-round pick.
"This was a real feature game for Josh," Staley said postgame. "I thought you saw the type of receiver we believe he is. He got his opportunities today and he really took them and ran with them.
"It wasn't perfect for him, but I think you see why we feel the way we do about him, and I really thought those two guys were real bright spots for us," Staley added.
Down 10-0 early in the second quarter, quarterback Justin Herbert connected deep over the middle with Palmer for 25 yards on a third-and-15. The big play — which was the offenses's first first down — jumpstarted a drive that would eventually end in the first Chargers points of the day.
That was the story of the day for Palmer — big plays.
Palmer shined late, hauling in three catches for 51 yards throughout the fourth quarter alone. One of those was a big 21-yard catch-and-run that set the Bolts up to kick the game-winning field goal.
"Mike and Keenan are a big part of our offense," wide receiver Deandre Carter said after the game. "Being down, Josh Palmer stepped up. He had to be wide receiver [No. 1] today and had his first career 100-yard receiving game.
"Proud of that kid, really stepped up," Carter added.
While Palmer led the way in yards, Carter added some crucial conversions when the Chargers needed them the most.
Carter converted himself into Herbert's safety blanket, as all five of his receptions went for first downs (four on third down, one on fourth down).
"I think [Carter] had four out of his five catches were third-down catches," Staley said about Carter. "He's mad that he didn't score down there, but he's been fantastic for us all year, and Keenan [Allen] and Mike [Williams] out, once guys are injured, those guys have stepped up."
Carter mentioned that with both Allen and Williams out, he was able to step into that slot and be a go-to on the crucial downs.
"Keenan is real big for us on third down, so I was able to step in and kind of fill that role," Carter said. "I'm happy that the coaches had confidence in me to call the plays and be able to make the plays for Justin."
One of his first downs came on one of the biggest plays of the game.
With the Chargers trailing 17-14, Herbert connected with Carter for six yards on a fourth-and-4, eventually leading to the game-tying field goal.
Carter talked about the big conversion as the Chargers noticed the Falcons defensive tendencies up to that point.
"Great play call, they were lining up in man and dropping into zone all game," Carter said. "Great play call by [Chargers Offensive Coordinator] [Joe] Lombardi and good job from Justin recognizing it and finding me in the hole."
Get an inside look at the Chargers celebrating their Week 9, 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium!
Dicker becomes the hero with his new team
Two NFL games. Two game-winners.
That's the story for Chargers kicker Cameron Dicker, who was the hero of the Week 9 matchup. Playing in his second-career NFL game, Dicker notched his second career game-winning field goal — the first coming as a member of the Eagles in Week 5.
Signed to the team on Thursday, the rookie kicker out of the University of Texas made both of his extra point attempts and field goals, including the one that won the game for the Bolts.
"I mean I saw it going and I don't really remember actually going through," Dicker said after the game about his final kick. "I just kind of saw it going there and I was like 'Sweet!". Turned to JK [Scott] he was all hyped up and I hugged him."
The Chargers are no stranger to implementing a new kicker on Thursday, as they had to do the same with Taylor Bertolet ahead of Week 5. Staley praised Dicker and the team, as they are a vital part in this process working.
"He came in and the guys put some pressure on him on Thursday and he kind of came through, so I thought he earned his stripes on Thursday, and then for him to knock it down," Staley said. "Really happy for him and proud of our team for supporting it because it takes everybody, it takes Josh Harris leading the way, snapper, JK is holder and how important that rhythm is and just proud of those guys."
Injuries have been a main story of the teams season so far, and rightfully so. But Herbert believes that Dicker is just another example of the "next-man-up" mentality, as the team has confidence in whoever is next up.
"That's the tough part about the NFL. Injuries come up and you have to look to the next guy who steps up and Cameron did a great job," Herbert said. "Like I said in practice he was perfect and he showed that confidence.
"We believed in him and it worked out there in the end. We knew that he was going to come through for us and whether it was Taylor, whether it was Dustin, whether it was Cam, they've all done a great job this year," Herbert added.
Mack shows 'what special players do'
After the first two offensive drives of the game for the Falcons, the Chargers defense did a good job in shutting down Atlanta and controlling the rest of the first half.
To start the second half however, the Falcons were once again driving inside the redzone and on the doorstep for more points.
Enter Khalil Mack.
Dropping into coverage, something that you don't see very often, the veteran outside linebacker made a beeline to the ball following the Falcons reception and ripped it away from Atlanta's Drake London.
"That's who he is," Staley said about Mack. "He's one of the top ball producers this league has ever seen, him in college at Buffalo, you can see how many sack-fumbles he had. This guy is one of the special players in the game.
"What special players do is in games like this and moments like that, they go and make plays for you and that's why you go get Khalil Mack because he can do that," Staley added. "He can make those plays in a clutch when you have to have it and I'm not surprised at all, it was a gutsy effort by him."
In a game where points were at a premium, Mack's forced fumble proved be a key in the final result. Even in games where the stat sheet may not pop, Mack's value to the defense is made obvious in plays like that — ones that only a few can make.
"It's huge. That's why we bring him here, right? He makes special plays like that," Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill said about Mack's play. "I think the last time I saw somebody just strip the ball from somebody and go the other way was probably Little League.
"This guy is a freak. Unbelievable play by him," Tranquill added.
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