The drive was approaching 5 minutes Sunday, Atlanta’s offense transferring from its 32-yard line to contained in the Chargers’ 10.
The Falcons had rattled off 9 performs, one among which — a 38-yard landing run — was worn out by penalty.
Huffing and puffing on the opposite aspect of the road of scrimmage, the Chargers wanted a break, each actually and figuratively.
So Khalil Mack took issues — and the soccer — into his personal fingers.
“I saw a long drive by them get turned into something that was great,” defensive lineman Christian Covington mentioned. “We were all dog tired on that play. Just to see Khalil Mack do what Khalil Mack does, we were all energized.”
After dropping into cross protection, one of many NFL’s high edge rushers of his period closed on Atlanta vast receiver Drake London and easily took the ball from the rookie.
Mack turned and headed in the wrong way, teammate Sebastian Joseph-Day joking Wednesday that Mack was so exhausted he seemed like a participant within the Madden NFL online game operating out of fuel.
“Khalil was probably so sick of it,” Joseph-Day mentioned. “ ‘Man, gotta end this somehow.’ It was a nightmare out there. He took it into his own hands. Love it. That’s why he’s elite.”
Joseph-Day was speeding Falcons’ quarterback Marcus Mariota on the play and mentioned he didn’t understand what Mack had executed till seeing a replay on the overhead video board at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I just heard people screaming,” Joseph-Day mentioned. “I didn’t know what had happened. I looked and he was running down the sidelines. It was just, ‘Thank you.’ That stuff was painful. We were out there grinding.”
Mack hit London instantly after the snap earlier than taking a step towards the center of the sector. After receiving the cross within the left flat, London turned upfield and encountered cornerback Michael Davis.
As London and Davis battled close to the Chargers’ five-yard line, Mack swooped in for the swipe.
Covington mentioned he had seen such a cold-blooded takeaway within the NFL solely in highlights. Linebacker Drue Tranquill steered after the sport that it had been fairly some time since he’d witnessed something prefer it.
“I think the last time I saw somebody just strip the ball in the open field and go the other way was probably little league,” he mentioned, smiling. “This guy’s a freak. Just an unbelievable play by him.”
For a protection attempting to emphasise turnovers, Mack’s play got here at an excellent time and place, Atlanta on the verge of scoring what would have been a go-ahead landing early within the second half.
The second additionally marked one other spotlight for Mack, who has been the Chargers’ second-best general defender via eight video games, in line with Professional Soccer Focus.
He leads the group with 23 pressures and 6 sacks and has the protection’s solely two fumble recoveries.
Coming off a season through which he sat out 10 video games due to a foot harm, Mack has performed the fifth-most snaps amongst Chargers’ defenders.
Requested what he has considered Mack, who’s in his first season with the Chargers, Covington mentioned, “The brother comes as advertised.”
The Chargers acquired Mack in a commerce with Chicago in March, the deal step one in head coach Brandon Staley rebuilding his protection. Though the unit as an entire has damaged down at instances, Mack has remained stable.
Coming into this season, he was going through questions on what he had left at age 31 and approaching his ninth NFL season.
“In this league, the older you get, people are going to say you’re slowing down,” Joseph-Day mentioned. “But the greats are great, you know. No offense, but I think sometimes people get bored and they look for things to say. This man has plenty left.”
And so forth.
- Proper sort out Trey Pipkins III was among the many Chargers who didn’t observe Wednesday as he continues to cope with a left knee harm that he aggravated towards Atlanta. Staley mentioned Pipkins and reserve edge rusher Chris Rumph II (knee) is every seemingly “a game-time decision” for Sunday evening at San Francisco.
- The Chargers will likely be with out vast receiver Mike Williams (ankle) this weekend, and fellow receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) additionally isn’t anticipated to play.
- Staley mentioned the Chargers are planning on having Cameron Dicker kick towards the 49ers as Dustin Hopkins (hamstring) stays out.
- Defensive lineman Jerry Tillery didn’t observe Wednesday due to a private matter, in line with the Chargers’ harm report.
- The Chargers signed defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko to their lively roster and put Austin Johnson (knee) on the injured reserve listing. Johnson will sit out the remainder of the season.