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Here's why the Lions' score was overruled and the Falcons won on a 10-second runoff

DETROIT -- The Falcons' exhilarating 30-26 victory against the Detroit Lions came down to the very end, literally.

Atlanta (3-0) beat Detroit (2-1) on the game's final play, one that appeared at first glance to win the game for the Lions.


With 12 seconds remaining on the clock, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford hit receiver Golden Tate on a 1-yard slant route that seemingly delivered a major comeback victory. As with all scoring plays, the touchdown was reviewed. What ensued, was equal parts confusing and fascinating.

While some may have initially been looking to see if Tate fully secured the catch, which he did, his location soon became the focal point of the review. It was determined that Tate's knee hit the ground and nickel back Brian Poole touched him down prior to the ball crossing the goal line.

Because the play was initially ruled a touchdown, the clock stopped with eight seconds remaining in the game.

Tate being ruled down short of reaching the end zone meant the play clock should not have been stopped after the third-down pass. The NFL's ruling on this is that a team may choose to use a timeout after a situation like this, or a 10-second runoff of the clock will occur.

Detroit had no timeouts remaining so, with only eight seconds left in the game, the 10-second runoff ended the Lions' comeback attempt and the game.

It's unclear whether the Lions would have been able to get to the line fast enough to run a play had Tate been initially ruled short of the goal line. Even if Detroit's offense had gotten set quickly enough, they would have had to have a play ready to go. This is an unusual situation, but in the NFL preparation is of the utmost importance. After seeing how Sunday's game in Detroit ended, teams around the league now have one more scenario to brush up on.

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