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Defense Slams Door on NFL's Number One Offense

The San Diego Chargers' 17-point comeback was the team's biggest since Week 1 of the 2015 season.

It wouldn't have been possible without the defense slamming the door in the second half on the NFL's number one offense.

After the Atlanta Falcons put up 27 points in the first half, Defensive Coordinator John Pagano's unit limited them to just a field goal the rest of the way as the Bolts won a 33-30 overtime thriller.

"The way we played, it's a proud moment for this defense," said captain Melvin Ingram.  "We put that grind in day in and day out.  That's something that we harp on every day, and not everybody sees that.  So I'm just proud. We are coming together.  We feel like we are one of the best defenses in the league, and we want to show that.  I feel this week we came out and showed it."

"The defense got big stop(s) and held them to three points in the second half, which is tough to do," Philip Rivers added. "I was so aggravated in the third quarter when (our offense) didn't do anything with those drives and they got us stops, I kept saying, 'We can't do this, we have to score a touchdown.' We can't think our defense, not that we don't believe in those guys, but we can't depend on them to hold them to three in the second half but they did it, and it was a huge way to win."

The second half was marked by huge plays by a number of contributors in key situations, none more so than a crucial stop in overtime.  Atlanta opted to roll the dice on 4th-and-1 near midfield, handing the ball off to Devonta Freeman.  The Chargers played it perfectly in the trenches, and Denzel Perryman knifed through the line to tackle him for a loss.

"It was a huge play by the defense and it goes back to (the mindset of) don't be denied," Head Coach Mike McCoy said. "We are going to find a way to win this right now. Someone needs to make a big play and they got a big stop for us, we were able to do what we needed to do and then we kicked a field goal to win it."

Ingram said he took Atlanta's decision to go for it personally.

"I was thinking (forget) it! It's fourth and one and they are going for it? I was hell bent on not letting them get it."

Perryman's overtime run stuff was the second huge play by the second-year linebacker.  With San Diego down by three with 3:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, he recorded his first career interception by picking off Matt Ryan to give the ball back to Rivers.

"(Denzel) knows what he means to this football team, we told him that throughout the game," McCoy added. "He has been dealing with (a shoulder injury), and he just didn't want to come off the field. He came out for a couple plays, felt a little better and went back out there. It's the position he plays, it's those type of players that you need when the game is on the line and a play needs to be big, an interception, a turnover and the run stop he had, it's a great team win."

Perryman was far from the only defensive playmaker to come up big.  After losing Caraun Reid and Craig Mager to injuries, the entire defense rallied. Joey Bosa had two sacks in the second half, becoming the first player since Elvis Dumervil in 2006 to record multiple multi-sack games in his first three career games. He is the first Charger to ever achieve that feat.

Still, after the game, his focus was on the way the entire defense played and what it means for the team as a whole.

"It means everything.  Especially with the win last week, to get something going and prove to ourselves that we could beat great teams.  We're just going to keep going, keep preparing like we have the last few weeks and get something rolling."

Brandon Mebane has been a part of some noteworthy defensive efforts during his tenure with the Seattle Seahawks. He explained how holding the NFL's number one ranked offense to just three points over the final 30-plus minutes of action can be a rallying cry for San Diego.

"We definitely feel us coming together.  This was a big confidence booster for us.  Winning back to back in the NFL is hard, period.  And that was clearly the number one offense in the league.  Just slowing them down like that was very big for us."

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