Chargers cornerback Michael Davis couldn’t explain why, but he had a feeling Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was about to break on his out route.
Perhaps it was familiarity with Ridley — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan targeted him 12 times on Sunday — that helped Davis anticipate the throw for the game-changing interception with 36 seconds left in regulation.
“For some reason, I felt like he was going to do an out and he did,” Davis said after the Chargers’ 20-17 win against the Falcons at SoFi Stadium. “(Ridley) was Matt Ryan’s go-to guy all day today and I trusted my instincts and got the pick. The game-winning pick.”
Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert led the Chargers on the game-winning drive and kicker Michael Badgley sealed the victory with a 43-yard field goal, but it was Davis’ key interception that started the rally.
The timely play also gave Davis the edge in his matchup against Ridley, despite allowing a few big plays to the Falcons’ star receiver. Ridley had eight receptions for 124 yards and a 39-yard touchdown catch.
“I’m playing for the brother to my left, I’m playing for my brother to my right, especially on defense (with) the ‘Jack Boyz,’” Davis said. “We’re close. So I was just playing for them.”
The Chargers’ defensive backs, who refer to themselves as the “Jack Boyz,” played a big part in the team’s second-half rally. They recorded three interceptions, and nearly had a fourth when Davis caught one of Ryan’s passes out of bounds near the end zone.
Safety Rayshawn Jenkins had the first takeaway when he caught a pass intended for Ridley in the end zone, and safety Jahleel Addae had a crucial fourth-quarter interception with 3:52 left in regulation.
“The defense did a heck of a job with those turnovers,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “I tell you, we needed those turnovers today.”
Addae was one of the defensive backs who started the “Jack Boyz” moniker a few years ago, but he left last season to play for the Houston Texans. He returned to the Chargers in September after a string of injuries in the secondary and worked his way from the practice squad to the team’s defensive rotation this season.
“He’s one of my guys,” Jenkins said about Addae, who played his first six seasons with the Chargers. “When I first got in the league, he kinda took me under his wing along with Adrian Phillips. So it’s always great to see your guys just performing well on the field.”
JOHNSON STEPS UP
Chargers wide receiver Tyron Johnson entered Sunday with only six catches this season, but four of those went for 50 yards or more. He was the Chargers’ sporadic deep-threat receiver.
Now, he’s building a reputation as a reliable receiver after filling in for Mike Williams, who only played two snaps against the Falcons because of a back injury.
Johnson didn’t record a 50-yard reception, but he was a consistent playmaker for Herbert and had a 25-yard catch to set up Badgley’s game-winning 43-yard field goal. Johnson also had the game-tying score after he connected with Herbert for a 12-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
“He’s a deep threat, but he’s also a good runner once he catches the ball,” Lynn said about Johnson. “His run after catch on some of the shallow crosses and things like that, he’s averaging like seven yards after catch. He’s a young, developing wide receiver and he’s just going to continue to get better and better as Justin gains more trust in him. I’m sure he’ll get more targets.”
Lynn said Johnson might have left Oklahoma State a year too soon and that could explain why he went undrafted last year and played on practice squads for the Texans, Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers before landing with the Chargers toward the end of his rookie year.
Johnson finished with 55 receiving yards and six catches on Sunday, matching his receptions total from the first 12 games. Johnson played a season-high 54 offensive snaps on Sunday, with his previous high being 18 snaps against the Buffalo Bills in Week 12.
The Chargers might need Johnson to start on Thursday against the Las Vegas Raiders if Williams isn’t able to play.
“He stepped up tremendously,” Herbert said about Johnson. “He is one of those guys that has stepped up big time. Something always happens when he is in the game, and it’s kind of funny the way things work out like that. It’s hard work. He’s worked his tail off and I couldn’t be prouder of the guy.
“The way he has stepped up and handled things — he makes plays. Whenever he’s out there, we’re trying to get him the ball.”
Lynn didn’t provide injury updates on offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner, who left Sunday’s game to be evaluated for concussions.
Twelve Chargers didn’t practice Monday, according to the team’s estimated injury report for the start of a short week.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) December 14, 2020