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Lions-Falcons recap: Detroit gets improbable win after critical Gurley mistake


Detroit Lions v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions blew a fourth quarter lead, but as the saying goes, the team that blows the fourth quarter team last, loses. A critical mistake from the Atlanta Falcons late in the game gave the Lions one more opportunity to score, and Detroit did not miss.

Here’s how the Lions came away with one of the most improbable wins of the season, 23-22.

First quarter

Although the two teams were coming into the week with hot offensive performances, both would take some time getting going on Sunday. The Falcons managed just one first down before punting away, and the Lions would follow with a three-and-out of their own.

After another three and out from the Falcons, the Lions offense finally got things going. On a key third-and-9 play, Matthew Stafford found Marvin Jones for a 23-yard gain. Then, as the Lions got into the red zone, they were handed a bit of a gift from the refs. On third-and-goal, Stafford took a sack, but the officials called a roughing the passer penalty on the play.

On the very next play, D’Andre Swift took it in from 3 yards. 7-0 Lions.

The offenses continued to struggle after that, with both teams going three-and-out yet again, as the game moved into the second quarter.

Second quarter

The Falcons offense got going in the next quarter, however. On a key third-and-9 in Lions territory, Detroit cornerback Jeff Okudah got tagged for a ticky-tacky pass interference penalty in the end zone, putting the ball on the 1-yard line. Todd Gurley would punch it in two plays later to tie up the score. 7-7 tie.

The Lions offense looked poised to respond. Bolstered by a huge 36-yard gain to Danny Amendola, the Lions were cooking. However, in the red zone, the Lions faced a fourth-and-1 at the 3-yard line. Detroit got aggressive, and went for it, but Atlanta read the play from the beginning, and Adrian Peterson was belted in the backfield for a turnover on downs.

Backed up in their own end zone, the Falcons had a big third-and-8 to make sure they weren’t going to give the ball back to the Lions with good field position. A great adjustment from Calvin Ridley help the Falcons gain 27 yards, and suddenly they were in business with a chance to put up points before the end of the quarter. And that’s just what they did.

On third-and-goal Matt Ryan found a wide open Calvin Ridley to complete a 98-yard, 14-play drive. 14-7 Falcons.

But with 30 seconds on the clock and two timeouts, the Lions took the opportunity to get one last score in the half. Big plays to Kenny Golladay (18 yards) and Marvin Jones Jr. (20 yards) got them into field goal range, and Matt Prater knocked his first 50-yard field goal of the season through the uprights as time expired. 14-10 Falcons.

Third quarter

The Lions offense came out firing in the second half. Although Stafford took an early sack, he responded with this amazing play to Kenny “Pay The Man” Golladay.

But as the Lions moved into field goal position, Detroit gave the ball back to Adrian Peterson for a dreaded run-run-pass series. It predictably got the Lions into a third-and-long, and Stafford took a sack on third down. Prater, thankfully, was true from 51 yards, making it a one-point game. 14-13 Falcons.

Detroit defense was able to get off the field quickly with a timely third-down sacks from Romeo Okwara, but the Lions offense responded with a three-and-out.

The Falcons offense would just start driving after two big third-down pickups as the game moved into the final quarter.

Fourth quarter

A big 28-yard pass to Julio Jones got the Falcons in field goal position, but they got a little greedy from there. Facing a fourth-and-5 with a chip-shot field goal available, Atlanta decided to go for it. It looked like Ryan had an easy pass to the running back out of the backfield, but Trey Flowers just barely got a hand on it, forcing the incompletion and giving Detroit the ball.

The Lions offense got it going to midfield. Then a savvy play by Matthew Stafford allowed the Lions a third-and-1 pickup, as he snapped the ball before the Falcons could get their 12th play off the field (after review). Detroit would stall after that, though, settling for a 46-yard field goal attempt. Prater, uncharacteristically, pushed it way right, keeping it at a one-point game with 7:30 minutes remaining.

Romeo Okwara gave Prater another chance, though. Okwara strip sacked Matt Ryan on the next possession putting the Lions immediately in field goal position. The Lions only went backwards from there, but Prater nailed a 49-yard field goal to put Detroit up with 3:09 remaining. 16-14 Lions.

The Falcons drove and appeared they were in position to put the game away and run out the clock. However, Todd Gurley made a critical error, scoring a touchdown instead of just going down and bleeding the clock.

Detroit would have one more opportunity, down six with 1:04 remaining. 22-16 Falcons

And holy crap, what an ending. A bomb to Kenny Golladay picked up 29 yards and gave the Lions one final chance from 11-yards out. Stafford waited and waited and waited, then found a wide open T.J.Hockenson for the score. Detroit made things even more complicated on themselves by committing a personal foul after the play, making Prater have to kick a 48-yard extra point. But Prater fully redeemed himself and got the Lions an improbable win. 23-22 Lions.

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