Early Bird Report: What we learned in Falcons' loss to Chargers

The top Falcons headlines from around the country 

The 2020 season has been filled with similar disappointments for both the Falcons and Chargers, who have squandered some late leads throughout the year. That trend continued for both teams on Sunday, as the fourth quarter was defined by three interceptions – one by the Chargers and two by the Falcons.

It was Matt Ryan's final interception that set up Los Angeles's game-winning drive, and it capped the former NFL MVP's worst game of the season. The Falcons continue to show strides on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense hasn't been up to their standard for several weeks now. With chances to win the game, they couldn't pull through, leaving the door open for the Chargers.

"The amount of self-destructive energy displayed by each of these teams in recent years seemed almost too much to have a game reach its conclusion without the earth splitting in two at the 50-yard line," Nick Shook wrote in his recap for NFL.com. "But by the grace of the football gods, Stan Kroenke's masterpiece of a stadium was saved, thanks to the foot of Mike Badgley , who drilled a game-winning 43-yard field goal to end a game that seemed destined for overtime. A smattering of interceptions made the final quarter thrilling, if not hilarious, with neither team taking advantage of the opposition's mistake to take control of the tie game. It wasn't until Justin Herbert hit Tyron Johnson with a 25-yard strike that it became apparent someone might actually win this one. The battle of identical Spider-Men ended with the field goal, providing Anthony Lynn's team a boost in a season filled with disappointment."

NFL Week 14 grades

Ryan's second-half performance will be the talking point for most in the national media, and CBSSports.com's John Breech is no exception. In his weekly grades, he gave the Falcons a "C" for their play against the Chargers and noted that Ryan's day overshadowed some other positive storylines for Atlanta.

"The Falcons might have won this game if not for a second half meltdown by Matt Ryan, who threw three interceptions in the half, including two over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter," Breech writes. "The three interceptions from Ryan led to 10 points from the Chargers and proved to be the difference in the game. Ryan's meltdown overshadowed impressive offensive performances from both Calvin Ridley (124 receiving yards, one TD) and Russell Gage, who not only finished with 85 receiving yards but also threw a gorgeous 39-yard TD pass."

Calvin Ridley sets milestone, remains unhappy with season

Without Julio Jones on the field, Calvin Ridley again proved he's capable of being a top receiver in the NFL. When given the chance to be the go-to option, Ridley has come through this season, and Sunday was no exception. He led the Falcons with eight catches for 129 yards and a 39-yard touchdown catch on a throw from Russell Gage. He also crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, a milestone he set for himself coming into the season. Yet, despite the individual accomplishment, he's not pleased with the team's performance, which Jason Butt wrote about at greater length for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I like that I did that because I know I can do that," Ridley said. "I know I can do way better than that. I feel good about it. I don't feel good that we lost, and I don't feel too good about the season."

More headlines for Falcons fans

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers with top photos from Week 14.

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