Facing 4th-and-5 with :14 remaining in the game, Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Chris Redman found wide receiver Eric Weems dragging across the back of the end zone, giving the Falcons a 27-24 win over the defending AFC West Champion San Diego Chargers in what was the Falcons’ final dress rehearsal before the regular season.
The back-up quarterback replaced starter Matt Ryan with the Falcons trailing the Chargers 21-13 midway through the third quarter. Redman would lead the Falcons on two scoring drives, of 80 and 75 yards, respectively, finishing the first with a 10-yard run and the second with his 5-yard pass to Weems.
For the night, Redman was 15-of-19 for 134 yards and a touchdown, resulting in a passer rating of 113.6. Those numbers were slightly better numbers than Matt Ryan, who was 14-of-20 for 140 yards and a touchdown and a passer rating of 106.2.
Michael Turner led the Falcons with 47 yards on 12 carries, while Marty Booker had a team-high 6 receptions for 62 yards. Defensively, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo) and had 3 passes defended. Cornerback Brent Grimes was effective blitzing off the edge, getting the team’s lone sack of the night.
Despite the win, the night wasn’t all positive.
Atlanta’s vaunted rushing attack, which ranked 2nd in the NFL in 2008, struggled against the Chargers’ 3-4 defense, gaining just 88 yards, with 20 of coming courtesy quarterbacks Ryan and Redman. Atlanta’s defense gave up 438 yards of total offense and allowed the Chargers to convert 11-of-16 (69%) of their third-down opportunities.
The Falcons also had some injuries, with running back Jerious Norwood injuring his left knee in the second quarter. 2009 third-round cornerback Christopher Owens had his right ankle rolled up on during a kick return, while second-round safety William Moore, who was making his preseason debut after having his left knee scoped at the beginning of training camp, left the game with a hamstring injury.
Up next for the Falcons are the Baltimore Ravens, who’ll visit the Georgia Dome at 7:30pm ET on Thursday, September 3.