Fans were ready for this epic matchup between the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons. After the Lions won the toss and chose to defer, Ford Field was deafening by the time the Falcons faced their first third down just a couple plays into the game.
However, Atlanta’s offense was just too much to handle on the very first drive of the game. Methodically marching down the field, the Falcons scored the first touchdown of the game after converting on a couple of big third downs.
After a personal foul on T.J. Lang and another long drive from the Falcons, the Lions were already looking to dig themselves out of a two-score hole, but luckily, the defense managed to get their first stop on third down with a timely sack by Anthony Zettel.
On the Lions very next offensive drive, they were able to get things rolling a bit after a catch and personal foul called on Atlanta’s Deion Jones, who was called for hitting Marvin Jones, labeled as a defenseless receiver. Matt Prater would go on to nail a 55-yard field goal because he doesn’t miss and he’s money.
With just five minutes to go in the first half, the Lions’ defense looked extremely uninspiring and constantly found themselves biting hard on play-action, missing tackles on Devonta Freeman and letting receivers get wide open for easy receptions.
The Lions responded with a nice nine-play, 53-yard drive, but decided to kick yet another field goal on fourth down from Atlanta’s 30-yard line. With 1:50 remaining in the first half, the Lions would trail by a score of 17-6, but things took a huge turn in the Lions’ favor when Matt Ryan threw a pick-six to Glover Quin, making it a one-possession game once again.
After another field goal tacked on by the Falcons, the Lions trailed 20-13 with three timeouts and 31 seconds remaining in the half. They would attempt to get the ball moving for some extra points, but three straight incompletions by Stafford put to bed any chance of minimizing Atlanta’s lead out the window.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Lions in the second half. After a three-and-out on offense, the Falcons got the ball back on Detroit’s 40-yard-line and just a few plays later, both Darius Slay and Anthony Zettel were down on the field. Zettel was helped off the field by trainers, while Slay was looked at on the sideline, but came back onto the field a few plays later. Zettel would later be ruled “Questionable” to return with a knee injury and made a return late in the third quarter.
The Lions would hold Atlanta to their third made field goal of the game, extending their lead to 23-13.
On the next possession, the Lions finally found some rhythm on offense, scoring on a 12-play, 75 yard drive on a nice 11-yard touchdown reception by Golden Tate. Stafford was a perfect 6-for-6 on that drive, completing passes to four different receivers.
After gaining some huge momentum on offense, the Lions came up big with another interception, this time by Big Play Slay. The offense would eventually stall out though, and settle for a field goal to knot things up, 23-23.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Falcons came roaring back and shredded through the porous Lions defense with a four-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capping things off with a 40-yard touchdown pass completed to Taylor Gabriel.
TURBO SWITCHING LANES! pic.twitter.com/u8TFdtUobl— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 24, 2017
Did I mention that Matt Prater is automatic? Well, he is, and he added yet another field goal make over 55 yards to his resume. The Lions would trail by just four points with under 12 minutes to go in the game.
The defense continued to look putrid against the run and could not stop the Falcons’ offense from moving down the field, but I will give them credit for being extremely opportunistic. On easily the biggest play of the second half, Darius Slay came up with another interception after a Falcons receiver tipped the ball up into the air. Unfortunately, the offense was not able to capitalize off of the turnover, and the Lions were forced to punt the ball away with under seven minutes remaining.
It took the defense all the way until the latter half of the fourth quarter to force the Falcons to punt the football, and what happens after that? A three-and-out for the offense and Eric Ebron’s second drop of the game, which led to a chorus of loud boos from the fans.
The Lions managed to force another punt on the Falcons’ next drive, which gave them a final shot to seal a victory. The Lions made it all the way to the 1-yard line and after what looked to be a touchdown to Golden Tate, the play was reviewed and ruled short with 8 seconds remaining. By rule, with no timeouts remaining, the Lions could not prevent the 10-second runoff and lost the game, 30-26.
The Lions are now 2-1 heading into Week 4 in Minnesota to play the Vikings.