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Game Notes: Falcons at Lions

  • The Falcons became the first NFC team to earn the conference's top seed twice in three seasons since the Philadelphia Eagles posted the NFC's best record in three straight seasons from 2002-04. With its 31-18 win over Detroit, Atlanta clinched the NFC's top seed, a first-round bye , and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
  • Atlanta posted a 4-0 record in their four primetime games this season, including Saturday's win at Detroit. Since 2008, the Falcons are 8-4 in games beginning at 8:00 p.m. or later.
  • Head coach Mike Smith recorded his 56th career win on Saturday night, running his five-year record to 56-23. Smith's 56 wins are the second most by any first time head coach in NFL history through his first five seasons. Smith trails only George Seifert who posted a 62-18 record his first five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
  • With a 16-yard reception in the first quarter, WR Roddy White joined Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Reggie Wayne as the only players in NFL history to record at least six straight seasons with 80 catches and 1,000 yards.
  • Later in the drive, QB Matt Ryan hit White for a 44-yard touchdown for the first score of the game. The score was White's longest touchdown reception since hauling in a 45-yard touchdown at Cleveland on 10/10/10.
  • On Atlanta's next possession, White took a screen pass from Ryan and raced 39 yards to the endzone for his second touchdown reception of the game. Saturday marked the third time that White has notched two touchdowns catches in the first half of a game and the seventh time he's posted 100-plus yards in the first half.
  • White's second touchdown reception gave him a total of seven scores this season, which marks the fifth straight season that he has caught at least seven touchdowns.
  • White finished the game with eight catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns, while averaging 19.1 yards per reception. White recorded his 35th career 100-yard game and tied his franchise record for 100-yard games in a season with his seventh 100-yard effort.
  • This season, White has caught 87 passes for 1,309 yards with seven touchdowns. He sits just 81 yards shy of breaking his franchise record for single season receiving yards (1,389) set in 2010.
  • Ryan also found WR Julio Jones for a touchdown in the first half, marking the second time he has thrown for three scores in the first half and the third time in his career that he has accomplished that feat. Overall, Ryan has posted 38 career multi-touchdown games.
  • Ryan finished the game completing 25 of 32 passes (78.1 percent) for 279 yards with four touchdowns and a 142.6 passer rating. Ryan has posted an identical passer rating in each of the last two games, tying the second highest quarterback rating of his career in Atlanta's win over the New York Giants in Week 15 and its win at Detroit on Saturday night.
  • The Falcons are 32-1 (.970) when Ryan has a quarterback rating of 100-or-better, including a 9-1 mark in 2012. His 100.2 passer rating this season puts him on pace to become just the second Falcons quarterback to finish a season with a QB rating above 100. Chris Chandler holds the franchise record with a 100.9 passer rating in 1998.
  • Ryan tied his career-high with four passing touchdowns in Saturday night's win and equaled QB Steve Bartkowski's franchise record for touchdowns in a season with his 31st touchdown pass. Ryan tied the record in the fourth quarter when he hit TE Michael Palmer for a one-yard touchdown.
  • Ryan has posted 39 multi-touchdown games in his career, including 18 games with three-or-more touchdowns. Ryan has led the Falcons to a 17-1 record when he throws three-plus touchdowns, including a 6-1 mark in 2012. Only QB Daryle Lamonica (19-0) owns a better record in games with three-or-more touchdown passes.
  • This season, the Falcons posted a 6-2 record on the road. Ryan excelled in those hostile environments, completing 228 of 317 pass attempts (71.9 percent) for 2,566 yards with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions with a 111.3 passer rating. The fifth-year signal caller threw multiple touchdowns in all but one road game this season and notched a passer rating above 100 in six of eight games. 
  • Dating back to the Atlanta's Week 15 win over the New York Giants, Ryan set a franchise record by completing 22 consecutive pass attempts, including his first 12 passes in Saturday night's game. Ryan's streak of 22 straight completions is tied for the third longest in NFL history.
  • Jones finished the game with seven receptions for 71 yards with one touchdown, giving him 76 receptions, 1,142 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns on the season. Jones'18 career receiving touchdowns are the most by any Falcons receiver in his first two seasons.
  • Atlanta's defense held Lions QB Matthew Stafford without a passing touchdown, marking the fifth time in the last six games that the Falcons have not allowed a touchdown through the air.
  • The Falcons forced three takeaways in Saturday's win and capitalized by scoring points after each one. DT Corey Peters forced RB Mikell Leshoure to fumble at Atlanta's own 33-yard line, which set up the Birds first scoring drive. DE John Abraham forced WR Calvin Johnson to fumble to set up a score before the end of the first half. CB Asante Samuel intercepted Stafford in the fourth quarter to set up a late game field goal.
  • Atlanta has scored 96 points on 29 takeaways this season.
  • Samuel has recorded an interception in back-to-back games and in his first season with the Falcons he ranks tied for second on the team with four picks. His 49 career interceptions are the fourth most among active players.
  • The Falcons defense was paced by CB Dunta Robinson, who tallied 10 tackles (nine solo) and one pass defense. LB Sean Weatherspoon notched nine tackles (seven solo), while DT Peria Jerry and DE Kroy Biermann each posted three quarterback hits.
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