From Carrie to king, Dicker plays Chargers hero

by Ricardo Gutierrez - Signed earlier in the week, kicker Cameron Dicker booted the game-winning field goal for the Chargers on Sunday to push Los Angeles to 5-3.

Cameron Dicker acts as surprise Chargers hero with game-winning kick play Chargers kick game-winning FG after keeping ball on wild sequence (0:43) After a pair of fumbles that result in the Chargers keeping the ball, Cameron Dicker kicks a game-winning field goal for Los Angeles. (0:43) 6:28 PM ET Lindsey ThiryESPN Close Covered Rams for two years for Los Angeles Times Previously covered the Falcons Has covered the NBA and college football and basketball ATLANTA -- Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. and left guard Matt Feiler hoisted rookie kicker Cameron Dicker onto their shoulders in celebration at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Moments earlier, Dicker converted a 37-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Chargers to a 20-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons . "I was happy for him," James said after the game. "That's what makes the NFL cool. When your number is called, you got to make the play for the team." Only four days earlier, Dicker canceled his plans to attend a Carrie Underwood concert in his hometown of Austin, Texas, so he could dash to the airport to catch a last-minute flight to Los Angeles, where the Chargers wanted to sign him. Editor's Picks "It's been wild," Dicker said of his week. "It's been fun." The game-winning field goal was the second this season for Dicker, who converted a 23-yard attempt in Week 5 to give the Philadelphia Eagles a 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals , earning him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. However, the Eagles cut Dicker, a member of their practice squad, on Oct. 29 in a series of roster moves. He returned home for only four days before answering what he described as an unexpected call from the Chargers. "To finish the game with your kicker, this is our third kicker, we're going to set the NFL record for game balls for kickers," coach Brandon Staley said "... I think he represents what this season has been about for us. It takes everybody on the team to win." The Chargers scrambled to sign Dicker to the practice squad Thursday after backup Taylor Bertolet suffered a quad injury in practice a day earlier then elevated him to the active roster Saturday. Starter Dustin Hopkins has been sidelined since Week 7 because of a hamstring injury. Despite playing Sunday without wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams , the Chargers improved to 5-3 and remain in contention to earn their first playoff berth since 2018. "We needed this game, especially on the road," James said. "We're right in the hunt with where we want to be for our season goals." Sunday's kick was the second game winner for Cameron Dicker this season, one with the Chargers and the other for the Eagles in Week 5. Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire Dicker's field goal capped what unexpectedly turned into a wild finish. With 46 seconds remaining in a 17-17 game, the Chargers advanced to the Falcons' 22-yard line. Despite being within field goal range, the Chargers elected to run another play as quarterback Justin Herbert handed off to Ekeler. "We were trying to get the ball to the left hash," Staley said. "That's a very safe play. It's a safe run. ... We wanted to gain some yards if we could and get it closer." But Ekeler fumbled. Falcons defensive lineman Ta'Quon Graham picked up the ball and made his way down the field before fumbling the ball himself. Feiler made the recovery for the Chargers, but they lost 21 yards on the play as the clock ticked down to 34 seconds. "We always practice running after the ball in case something like that happens," a relieved Feiler said. "So I was just kind of doing that ... and luckily it bounced our way." Herbert found wide receiver Joshua Palmer for a 22-yard strike to put the Chargers back in field goal range, enabling the game-winning kick and ensuing celebration. "I was just like, 'Wow!'" Ekeler said of Dicker's game-winning boot. "Just like, thank you. We've been through so many kickers." Herbert completed 30 of 43 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Ekeler rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and caught seven passes for 24 yards and a touchdown. He became only the third player in NFL history with 10 games with both a rushing and receiving touchdown in his first six seasons, joining Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey . But it was Dicker's effort that, in the end, the Chargers needed most. "It was the first time I've ever been lifted up like that," Dicker said of the postgame celebration. "It was all a blur."