Cameron Dicker gives Chargers kick they need in comeback win

Ahead of Sunday’s game, he’s pretty sure few players in his dressing room knew his name.

After that, two of those total strangers teammates hoisted Cameron Dicker onto their shoulders in mad triumph.

In arguably one of the strangest, most spectacular, and most unbelievable moments in NFL history, Dicker kicked a game winner for his second team in five weeks, lifting the Chargers 20-17 past Atlanta.

“Very slim,” he said when asked about the chances of anyone experiencing what he had recently. “I didn’t think I would be here. Cool to have these opportunities to do my thing.”

On October 9, Dicker was an injury substitute for Philadelphia when he launched a 23-yarder with 1:45 left to beat Arizona. That contest also ended in a road win for Dicker’s team through the same 20-17 final.

Those are the only two games the University of Texas rookie kicker has appeared in.

Against the Falcons, Dicker replaced the injured Taylor Bertolet, who substituted for the injured Dustin Hopkins.

When Bertolet injured his quadriceps in practice last week, the Chargers called in the NFL’s rented leg, brought up their third kicker in as many games, and soon enough pinned all their hopes — and maybe their season — on his right foot.

“We’re going to set the NFL record for cue balls for kickers in a year,” said coach Brandon Staley. “Three separate kickers – cue balls.”

Dicker officially joined the team on Thursday as a member of the practice team. He was picked up on Saturday and then picked up the chargers again 24 hours later.

His decisive kick came from 37 yards on the last play of the game, Dicker also nailed a 31-yarder at 5:27 in the fourth quarter to even pull the Chargers 17-17.

It’s been quite an afternoon for a 22-year-old, who thought his biggest thrill of the week would probably be attending a Carrie Underwood concert in Austin, Texas on Wednesday.

Chargers field kicker Cameron Dicker (15) kicks the game-winning field goal against the Atlanta Falcons.

Chargers field kicker Cameron Dicker (15) kicks the game-winning field goal against the Atlanta Falcons.

(Danny Karnik/Associated Press)

After being released by the Eagles last weekend, Dicker was returning to Texas and was planning to attend the show when his agent called and, Dicker recalled, asked him, “How soon can you get to the airport?”

A short time later, Dicker landed in Southern California to write a second chapter in his unlikely story.

“He represents what this season has been about for us,” Staley said. “It takes everyone on the team to win.”

It lasted every Sunday plus a stunning last-minute pause – a pause that allowed Austin Ekeler to feel anything other than overwhelming regret on the flight home.

The Chargers were in position for a game-winning Dicker try when they had third and fourth at the Falcons 22-yard line with 46 seconds left.

Wanting to get the ball near the left hash mark, the Chargers ran Ekeler across the tackle spot in that direction. Going down with a two-yard gain, Ekeler fumbled while Atlanta defenseman Ta’Quon Graham recovered.

The Chargers' Austin Ekeler (30) fumbles before Atlanta recovers and fumbles the ball back to Los Angeles.

The Chargers’ Austin Ekeler (30) fumbles before Atlanta recovers and fumbles the ball back to Los Angeles.

(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

Falcons' Ta'Quon Graham (95) fumbles the football back to the Chargers after recovering a fumble from Austin Ekeler.

The Falcons’ Ta’Quon Graham (95) fumbles the football back to the Chargers after recovering a fumble from Austin Ekeler and being chased by Justin Herbert (10).

(John Bazemore/Associated Press)

Ball in hand, Graham ran towards the opposite end zone before fumbling as well. Chargers left guard Matt Feiler recovered at Atlanta’s 43-yard line.

“It’s amazing that we got the ball back,” said Ekeler. “I need to finish games much better.”

The lost fumble was the first for the veteran, running back since Dec. 5, 2021, when he had back-to-back wins in Cincinnati.

It also capped a day in which Ekeler had two touchdowns — on a two-yard run and a one-yard catch — but also had a key drop on a screen pass and an apparent 37-yard scoring reception, which was canceled by a repeat examination.

However, Ekeler said he will remember the fumbling the most.

“Right there it’s like, ‘Hey, Austin, break up,'” he said. “That’s the kind of player I want to be. I have this weird, sick feeling. I’m so happy we won. But…we could easily have lost this game if we didn’t get that fumbling right back.”

Given that second opportunity with 34 seconds remaining, the Chargers needed some yardage.

Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer (5) tries to pass Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) after catching a pass.

Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer (5) tries to pass Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) after catching a pass. Palmer surpassed 100 receiving yards for the first time in his career.

(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

With one-for-one coverage, Joshua Palmer worked free from Falcons cornerback Cornell Armstrong, and Justin Herbert hit him for a 22-yard gain.

“As soon as I knocked him off the line,” Palmer said, “I knew Justin was going to come to me.”

A two-yard run from Ekeler set up Dicker’s memorable final kick — not that he remembers going through the posts.

“I saw it,” Dicker said. “I don’t remember it actually happening. I saw it run and it was, ‘Cute!’ ”

Dicker turned and hugged defending champion JK Scott before his teammates came together and Derwin James Jr. and Amen Ogbongbemiga placed him on their shoulders.

Dicker doesn’t remember that either. He called it “all a blur” and said he had no idea who picked him up.

The delightful confusion was understandable. Dicker was almost 96 hours Charger and arrived at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, still an unknown among his own.

“Three or four maybe,” Dicker said when asked how many of his teammates knew his name Sunday morning. “If there are any Big 12 guys, I think they know. I guess the [other] specialists. That’s all.”

A few hours later, the Chargers all knew Cameron Dicker.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-11-06/cameron-dicker-chargers-winning-kick-falcons Cameron Dicker gives Chargers kick they need in comeback win

Emma Bowman

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