Despite forcing turnover after turnover, the Detroit Lions were unable to capitalize on the Falcons mistakes, and despite a valiant last-ditch effort by Matthew Stafford to march the ball downfield and score a last-second touchdown, the game was lost when a rarely-used runoff rule ended the game with the Lions still down four points. It’s not how it should have ended, but the Lions still put their names firmly on the national map in this game and are the team to beat in the NFC North. As always, we’re going to look at who did well (which should be obvious) and who was the goat of the game (which also should be obvious) with our weekly stock report.
Stock Up: Glover Quin, FS
GLOVER QUIN PICK SIX LET'S GOOOO pic.twitter.com/axiYEhUG99— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 24, 2017
Quin played like an All-Pro to start the season and continues to play like an All-Pro now. He hauled in an Ed Reed-style, come-from-nowhere interception that he ran back to bring the Lions within a score in the first half, and played equally well against the run as the pass all day. One of the most underappreciated players in the NFL, it’s going to be tough to keep quiet just how awesome Glover Quin is if he continues to play this well.
Stock Down: Eric Ebron, TE
Eric Ebron with ANOTHER drop. Awful follow up to his Giants game.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) September 24, 2017
After a coming-out party of sorts against the Giants where he played well both blocking and catching, Eric Ebron disappeared for most of the Falcons game. He dropped his first pass of the season on an easy route where he had gained separation on his defender and it looked like he failed to watch the ball into his hands. The failed third down conversion forced a kick that put the Lions within four points, but the offense was marching at that point and it killed the drive. He would later drop another third down pass with just over 3:00 left to go and only down four points.
Stock Up: Miles Killebrew, SS
First down saving tackle by Miles Killebrew.— Pride Of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) September 24, 2017
The second-year strong safety got his first start with Tavon Wilson out injured and there was some concern if he would be as effective with increased responsibilities. Killebrew responded by leading the Lions in tackles. While it’s normally a dubious distinction for a DB to lead the team in tackles, this wasn’t because Killebrew was giving up catches and making tackles in pursuit, but rather because he was able to clean up the middle of the field after other players’ mistakes and make some magic of his own in the run game.
Stock Down: Ezekiel Ansah, DE
Ziggy Ansah not trusted to play every down tonight.— Tom Kislingbury (@TomDegenerate) September 24, 2017
Same as the rest of his career then.
After a three-sack game versus Ereck Flowers and the Giants, Ansah was blanked against the Falcons offense. He did little to impact the game positively and his inability to effectively set the edge led to some of the rushing offense by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The run game gouged the Lions defensive front routinely and Ansah was one of the chief offenders in this one. The Lions were even pulling Ansah from some plays, and not in a general rotation kind of way, either.
Stock Up: Darius Slay, CB
Big Play Slay earned that moniker against the reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. He hauled in two interceptions, both of which involved sure points. His first put the Lions in field range goal immediately and put the team in striking distance for more. The second took points off the board for the Falcons, picking it off as they neared the end zone and running it back to give the Lions good field position. What a statement day from one of the best young corners in the NFL.
Stock Down: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB
Opportunity wasted by Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Had a chance to stuff Tevin Coleman short but gives up a big play and puts them in FG distance.— Pride Of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) September 24, 2017
In his first significant action since being drafted in the fourth round, Jalen Reeves-Maybin was almost as bad as you possibly could be. He struggled in every facet of the game, particularly when asked to defend against the run. It wasn’t pretty watching him get stiff armed into the turf and it was even worse trying to watch him attempt to shed blocks. It was a rough day by a lot of Lions players on defense, but JRM stood out as one of the worst.
Ameer Abdullah, RB - Abdullah seems to break at least one tackle on every negative run he gets. I long for a chance to see what he can do with some actual space.
Darren Fells, TE - The top-rated run blocking TE in the NFL added a tough catch in coverage to his resume.
Graham Glasgow, OC - This was a tough game to evaluate for the OL and Glasgow played a new position (this year) at center. He looked good when I keyed in.
TJ Jones, WR - Jones took over at KR and didn’t do much, but made a couple nice and timely catches to move the chains.
Zac Kerin, OG - If you forgot he was on the roster, you’re not alone. And yet, he started at left guard and, mostly, did alright.
Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT - Ledbetter has been playing well all year and while this wasn’t as good as previous weeks it was still a strong outing.
Matt Prater, K - Matt Prater is money. Now owns the record for most consecutive 50+ yard field goals made.
Greg Robinson, OT - Robinson wasn’t good, but he held up a lot better than I expected him to coming into this game.
Matthew Stafford, QB - Stafford continued his reputation as the comeback kid despite the odd ending to the game. Money when it matters.
Golden Tate, WR - Tate didn’t do a whole lot early on, but once the game became close and heated, he was on the mark until the final play.
Jeremiah Valoaga, DE - Valoaga had some issues in the run game, but have to give a guy credit for his first NFL sack, espeically as a UDFA.
Tahir Whitehead, LB - Whitehead struggled in coverage, but he did a lot better holding up than most expected. Atlanta tight ends had only one catch.
Jamal Agnew, CB - Agnew’s first attempt at a kick return came up short and he did little else of note.
Nick Bellore, LB - Bellore got some serious game action with Jarrad Davis out and I don’t remember seeing a single snap that was a good one.
Don Carey, SS - Carey made a rare special teams mistake hitting the returner after a fair catch signal was made. Big penalty late in the game.
Quandre Diggs, CB - After balling out in each of the first two weeks, Diggs gave up a TD in this one.
D.J. Hayden, CB - Hayden was an abject disaster at corner at times in this game and it never really got any better.
T.J. Lang, OG - Lang has been bully as a blocker, but I am harping on his penalties because they have sucked. He had another poorly-timed penalty in this one.
Jeff Locke, P - Locke is not Sam Martin and we were reminded of that in this one when he kicked a low wobbler that gave the returner miles of room.
Haloti Ngata, DT - After a strong start, the Lions run defense was putrid against the Falcons, whose lethal RB duo had all kinds of room to move.
Theo Riddick, RB - The Lions aren’t even pretending Riddick is a viable rushing threat anymore. His routes aren’t as smooth as they used to be either; it’s concerning.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - He may have gotten his hands on a pass to keep the A’Swat name going, but his run defense (his forte) was poor at the worst time.
Akeem Spence, DT - Like the other DT, Spence was ghosted by Atlanta’s offensive line all day.
Rick Wagner, OT - Rick Wagner, like Lang, has been a fine blocker who has struggled with untimely penalties. Keep waiting for it to be cleaned up.
Charles Washington, FS - With Tavon Wilson out, Washington got some work on defense. It didn’t turn out very well.
Paul Worrilow, LB - After getting benched against New York, Worrilow saw inconsistent action with Nick Bellore in this one. They were both bad.
Zach Zenner, RB - Like Ameer Abdullah, Zener didn’t get much daylight. He did little with what he did get, though.
Anthony Zettel, DE - After an injury scare, Zettel returned to 2016 form where he couldn’t disengage blocks or set a decent edge.
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach, Stock Up
When it all boils down to it, the Lions lost by a handful of points in the final seconds of the game against the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons due to a runoff rule and a few inches. Caldwell’s passivity likely led to the first half deficit, but knowing how to keep the team on its toes kept the game from ever slipping away.
Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator, Stock Down
Austin’s defense has improved mightily in forcing turnovers, with Darius Slay and Glover Quin owning the show in this one. He came into the game with the goal of shutting down the run and making the Falcons one dimensional, however, and he failed miserably at doing that. His late game rally to stop the Falcons in the fourth quarter was timely and needed, but it was ultimately too late to prevent the score from being favorable.
Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator, Stock Down
Cooter’s inability to create dynamic run plays bit the Lions once again and it was made worse by his inability to recognize and adjust to the amount of pressure the QB was getting. In the first half, Stafford was getting time in the pocket, but Cooter kept drawing up short passes that the Falcons were easily covering. By the time Cooter adjusted, the offensive line wasn’t holding up as well and Stafford was under more fire. As always, Cooter knows how to engineer a final drive of the game when down a touchdown, but it would be nice to see more of the whole get a lead, keep a lead offense.