clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The history of Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons

Taking a look back at the history between these two NFC teams.

Detroit Lions QB Charlie Batch... SetNumber: X61859 TK3 R1 F10

I don’t know why, but I feel like there’s a special bond between Detroit Lions fans and Atlanta Falcons fans. You get the senses that Falcons fans understand Lions fans’ plight more than most. Sure, they’ve been to the Super Bowl a couple times, but both were crushing losses. The Falcons also suffer through a lot hilarious losses just like the Lions do. I’ll point you directly at the Lions’ win over the Falcons last year. The infamous Todd Gurley touchdown. The Lions suffered an event like that just a few years earlier when the 10-second runoff happened. These two teams were made for each other. Let’s get into the history.

The first time

We’ll have to go all the way back to the swinging 60s. 1966 to be exact. The Lions were the Atlanta Falcons’ third opponent in franchise history. The Falcons were a brand new expansion team and were full of expansion players, including three from the Lions’ roster: guard Joe Simon, center Bob Whitlow and defensive end Sam Williams.

They rolled into the game with rookie quarterback Randy Johnson. He only played half the game, though. Dennis Claridge played the rest. The Lions beat the Falcons by a score of 28-10. The Lions cherished this win. Speaking of cherish, The Association’s “Cherish” was the number one song in the America at the time.

Random stats

The Lions have played the Falcons 38 times since 1966. The Falcons are one of six NFL franchises that the Lions hold an all-time winning record against. The Lions are 25-13 against the Falcons.

The Lions are 10-6 in Atlanta and haven’t lost there since the winless 2008 season. The Lions have never lost a game a game in Mercedes-Benz stadium. I know that place is only four years old and the Lions have only played there once, but it feels cool to say it.

Jared Goff or Tim Boyle will be the 20th quarterback to start a game for the Lions against the Falcons. Twenty different guys in 38 games seems like a lot.

Worst memory

It’s the 10-second runoff in 2017. Just a super crappy moment. The stadium was going nuts when they thought Golden Tate got into the end zone and the Lions had pulled off another classic comeback win. The Lions were on their way to a 3-0 start and the crowd was chanting MVP at Matthew Stafford. Then the nightmare began, and Lions fans everywhere learned about a relatively rare rule called the 10-second run off.

I know fans will often blame losses on officials. More often than not, those fans are just trying to assign blame to an external factor when it was ultimately the team’s fault. But this time the Lions truly lost because of the officials. They incorrectly ruled the play a touchdown and because they got it wrong and the Lions had no more timeouts, the Lions lost the game on a technicality. If the officials called the play right on the field, it’s quite possible Detroit has enough time to pull off a game-winning play.

This loss proved to be an important one when the Lions missed the playoffs in January. Because of that, Jim Caldwell was fired and possibly the worst three years in franchise history began.

Best memory

This one is hard. There’s the Calvin Johnson game where he broke the receiving yards record. There’s also the aforementioned Todd Gurley moment last year. The game that should really be the best memory is the 2014 22-21 win in London. Let’s dive into that one, shall we?

Game dive

The 2014 season was really fun, and it was because of games like this. The Lions went to London for the first time ever, and Lions fans had to wake up at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday to watch this one. At first, it looked really bad. The Lions went into halftime down 21-0. It looked like this 5-2 Lions team, who had won four of its last five games, was ultimately a fraud. The good news is that they had this new kicker named Matt Prater, and despite a little rust, he looked good.

In the second half, the Lions went off. Prater hit a 22-yard field to put the Lions on the board for the first time all day. Then Golden Tate caught a big 59-yard touchdown that really put the Lions in the game. Prater grabbed another field goal and Theo Riddick got in the end zone, too.

Then, with seconds left and the Lions down 21-19, Matt Prater lined up to attempt a 43-yard field goal and he missed it. The Lions lost the game and went home sad from London. But wait, there’s a flag on the field. The Lions got flagged for delay of game. Because of that, Prater would get a chance to kick from farther out, and this time he nailed a 48-yard field goal and the Lions won. Good times. You can watch the entire game here.