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Falcons lose in final seconds to Lions

Matthew Stafford's last-second touchdown pass gave the Lions a 23-22 victory against the Falcons


The Atlanta Falcons (1-6) lost in the final seconds to the Detroit Lions (3-3) 23-22 after a last-second touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to T.J. Hockenson on Sunday afternoon inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It was a contest that Atlanta led for much of the time, but a fumble by Matt Ryan on a sack by Romeo Okwara late in the fourth quarter seemingly swung the action in Detroit's favor. That fumble in Falcons' territory resulted in a 49-yard field goal by Lions kicker Matt Prater, which gave Detroit a 16-14 lead with 3:16 remaining in the game.

Atlanta managed to claw its way back on offense. Taking over at the 24-yard line, Ryan moved the offense into field goal range, and Gurley helped run down the clock. He picked up a crucial third down, waiting patiently before gaining the yards needed. On the very next play, Gurley broke through the Lions' defensive line for a 10-yard touchdown run.

A side-arm throw by Ryan to Calvin Ridley secured the two-point conversion for Atlanta and gave it the 22-16 lead with just over one minute remaining in the game.

The Lions drove the field, however, to win the game with no time remaining on the clock for the Falcons to reverse the outcome.

Detroit struck first in this contest, scoring on a 3-yard run by D'Andre Swift in the first quarter. That touchdown run was immediately preceded by a controversial roughing the passer penalty on rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell. Terrell appeared to sack Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, but the refs saw helmet-to-helmet contact and threw the flag on third down to give Detroit new life.

The Lions finished the game with 386 yards of total offense - 322 passing and 64 rushing - but converted just 30 percent of their third downs. Stafford completed just under 70 percent of his passes for 340 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Kenny Golladay was his preferred receiver, catching six passes for 114 yards, and Adrian Peterson led the Lions on the ground with 29 yards on 11 carries.

It did not take long for the Falcons to respond. Starting at their 18-yard line on the following series, the Falcons marched 82 yards to tie the game at 7-7 with a 1-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley. Tight end Hayden Hurst was a star on that drive, catching three passes for 31 yards, including a wild diving reception that originally careened off of multiple players' cleats.

A big play from Stafford and receiver Danny Amendola picked up 36 yards on Detroit's next drive, and a roughing the passer penalty gave the Lions an additional 12 yards to quickly move them to Atlanta's 11-yard line. Detroit then moved down to the 3-yard line and opted to go for it on fourth down. For the second time in as many weeks, however, the Falcons defense stood tall with their backs to the end zone and denied their opponent.

Safety Keanu Neal had his best game of the season for Atlanta on Sunday. Neal led the team with 11 tackles, and he also recorded one sack and two tackles for a loss. Linebacker Deion Jones had the other sack of the afternoon for Atlanta and finished with four tackles, including two for a loss.

Taking over at their 2-yard line, the Falcons marched 98 yards to take the lead with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Calvin Ridley. Ridley got the drive started with an acrobatic catch on third-and-7 to pick up 27 yards and put the Falcons in motion.

Trailing 14-7 with just 29 seconds remaining in the first half, the Lions covered 48 yards in 26 seconds to set up a 50-yard field goal for Matt Prater. A good kick by Prater cut into the Falcons' lead and made the score 14-10 heading into halftime.

Atlanta finished the day with 388 total yards of offense and converted 50 percent of its third-down attempts. Ryan completed 73.8 percent of his passes for 338 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones caught eight passes for 97 yards, and Ridley chipped in with five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. On National Tight Ends Day, Hurst had one of his best showings, catching six passes for 68 yards. Gurley led the way on the ground with 23 carries for 63 yards and two scores.

Detroit tacked on another field goal on its opening possession of the second half, cutting their deficit to just one point on a 51-yard kick by Prater.

After a challenge by Lions head coach Matt Patricia on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter, the officials ruled that Atlanta had 12 players on the field when the ball was snapped on its third-down stop. That gave the Lions a new set of downs, but they could not do much with them and Prater missed his first field goal of the game to maintain Atlanta's 14-13 lead.

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions with top photos from inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 7.

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