The Lions lost their first game of the season (2-1) to the Atlanta Falcons in a heartbreaker Sunday at Ford Field. In a game that seemed early on to be one the Lions would allow to get out of hand due to another slow start out of the box, became a game that would go down to the wire.
The Falcons opened up the scoring with a short Ryan to Sanu touchdown pass (4 yards), followed up with a long Matt Bryant field goal (36 yards). The Lions finally got on the board with a field goal from Matt Prater (55 yards) late in the first quarter. The Falcons took full advantage of the fact that the Lions were without starting LB Jarrad Davis (concussion) to the tune of 151 yards on the ground. The Falcons were also missing a big piece of their front seven LB Vic Beasley (hamstring), but the Lions were not able to take advantage of his absence as they were held to 71 yards on 19 attempts.
The Lions passing attack also lacked continuity as Matthew Stafford went 25/45 for 264 yards with one TD. The defense, even without Davis and safety Tavon Wilson, kept the Lions in the game by intercepting reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan three times, two by Darius Slay and one by Glover Quin that he returned for a TD in the second quarter to bring the Lions within four points of the Falcons (17-13). Ryan finished the day going 24/35 for 294 and two touchdowns.
Kicker Matt Prater was automatic as usual, keeping the Lions within striking distance as he went 4/4 on field goals and was perfect on PATs. The Lions eventually pulled even on one of four makes by Prater late in the third quarter. The score didn’t stay tied long as the Falcons answered on their very next possession short pass to Taylor Gabriel that he took to the house putting the Falcons up by seven. The Lions would answer that score on the very next possession closing the gap (30-26). They would trade punts with the Lions possessing the ball for one of those famous Matthew Stafford fourth quarter comeback wins.
Stafford opened the drive hitting Tate for 15 yards, then on the very next play he found TJ Jones passing over the middle for 29 yards. Jones took a vicious hit on the play from Ricardo Allen that drew a 15-yard penalty moving the ball to the Atlanta 45 yard line. The Lions would work the ball down to the Atlanta 19 with 24 seconds left in the game. Facing a 3rd and 10, Stafford dropped back and launched a pass to the end zone for Marvin Jones who was defended by Marcus Trufant who was called for pass interference in the end zone, giving the Lions the ball at the one with 19 seconds left. Stafford then threw two incomplete passes setting up an unbelievable finish.
With 12 seconds left in the game and the Lions down four, Stafford took the snap and found Golden Tate for the game winning touchdown that sent the Lions faithful into a frenzy. By rule all touchdowns are reviewed and upon further review every Lions Fan’s worse nightmare was realized. When Referee Walt Coleman delivered the ruling it was like 60,000 Fans were given a tablespoon of castor oil. The touchdown was overturned and by rule there’s a 10 second run off that ended the game because the play was called dead with 8 seconds left. Just when we think that the Lions have been done in by every bad rule in the book, another chapter is written.