The Chargers were the NFL's third-best team on third down entering play on Sunday, converting 30-of-63 (.476) attempts. That all changed when they were 2-for-11 on third downs on Sunday, good for 18 percent. They are now 3-for-4 on fourth down attempts after failing once on Sunday.
"We felt like it was right where we wanted it the entire game until the last couple of minutes," Brees said. "There were opportunities out there. I look at so many third and shorts, situations where we could have easily converted or should have converted and we didn't. That would have been the second or third first down in a drive and the defense starts thinking, ‘here we go.'"
"We knew it was going to be a tough place to play, and it fulfilled our expectations in that regard. We had some opportunities, and in the final analysis we ended up coming up a point short. But as I told our football team, it's a long season and we've got a ways to go, there is no doubt. But there's a reason why the Atlanta Falcons are 5-1. They're an awfully good football team, and while we came close - and there's no consolation in that - we will continue to grow and get better."
Steve Foley nabbed two sacks, the first multi-sack game since he had three on Nov. 21, 1999 against Baltimore. He did have one and a half sacks against Tennessee earlier this year and now has 5.5 sacks on the year to lead the team.
Drayton Florence picked off a Michael Vick pass late in the second quarter, the second interception of his career and the second interception in as many games. His pick led to seven points for the Chargers.
Parker was also called for an illegal crackback on a drive that began on Atlanta's side of the field. It stalled a drive and San Diego had to settle for a field goal.
"We did a good job of executing from the start, but we need to finish," said Gates who dropped a key third down reception late in the game.
Reche Caldwell had a ball stripped from him on a quick hit on the first series of the opening drive. Caldwell hurt his left knee on the same play and was carted off.
"I wouldn't say it was a huge affect," Brees said of losing his top wide receiver, "but the fact that Kassim (Osgood) is on so many special teams and Tim (Dwight) is as well, those guys were pulling double duty all day long."
Dave Ball left the game with a right toe injury he sustained in the first quarter.
Kassim Osgood tried to make a diving catch on a deep ball with just over twelve minutes to go in the third quarter and appeared to land on his shoulder. He was slow to get up and walked off the field of his own volition. He returned to the game and finished the day with three receptions for 37 yards.
Denis Savage can be reached at email@example.com