First Quarter:You knew it would be loud. You knew it would be physical. The first quarter of the Lions-Falcons was just that and then some. Detroit and Atlanta traded punches and the Falcons emerged standing after the initial quarter. The Falcons kept the Lions out of the endzone and kept Calvin Johnson without a reception. The Falcons turned a 37-yard punt return by Eric Weems into a field goal and then a forced fumble by Akeem Dent on Detroit's kickoff return gave the ball back to Atlanta's offense. Jason Snelling recovered the fumble on Detroit's 28-yard line, giving the offense a short field to work with. The Falcons took the ball up to Detroit's 1-yard line before Matt Ryan punched it in for his second rushing touchdown of the season giving the Falcons a 10-3 lead.
Second Quarter: The Falcons continued their strong defensive play into the second quarter and the offense began to respond, as well. Atlanta continued defending third down, shutting out the Lions' five attempts in the first half. Detroit added a field goal to draw to within four early in the quarter but the defense clamped down to prevent any more scoring. Cornerback Brent Grimes showcased good coverage on Johnson after the big wide receiver caught his first pass of the game on Detroit's next-to-last possession of the quarter. With less than two minutes remaining, the Falcons turned to the no huddle on offense and gashed Detroit with doses of tight end Tony Gonzalez and Turner before Ryan connected with Roddy White in the endzone for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Heading into the half, the Falcons carried the momentum with a 17-6 lead.
Third Quarter:The third quarter was another tough one for the Falcons, but they didn't give up the lead. A sack on Ryan at 10:32 knocked the quarterback out of the game for a brief period of time and the Lions responded with a field goal to draw to 17-9. In dramatic fashion, Ryan took over on the next possession from backup Chris Redman on third down and completed a 49-yard pass to Harry Douglas and went on to gain another field goal from Matt Bryant to extend the lead to 20-9. Detroit had their best drive of the game following that field goal, gaining their first third-down conversion of the game and then a touchdown on a 57-yard touchdown strike. Turner added to his rushing total as the third quarter came to a close with a 50-yard run.
Fourth Quarter:On the first play of the fourth quarter Ryan threw his second interception of the day, but the Falcons defense responded yet again with another three-and-out. Fullback Ovie Mughelli was carted off the field and lost for the game on the next possession, but Atlanta pieced together another scoring drive. Matt Bryant connected from 40 yards out for his 27th consecutive field goal, a franchise record, to give the Falcons a 23-16 lead. Bryant's kick with 4:42 remaining in the game closed out the scoring for both teams. Detroit briefly threatened inside of three minutes, with an opportunity to tie the game after a fourth down defensive penalty extended the Lions drive. But the game's recurring theme - the Falcons gritty defense at key moments in the game - again held true. It appeared the Lions would move down into the Falcons red zone after a pass interference call, but a booth replay confirmed that Corey Peters tipped the Matthew Stafford pass (his second batted ball of the game), overturning the penalty. The Lions still had three time outs when the Falcons took over with 1:30 on the clock. They used two time outs to force a 3rd and 4 near midfield and had a chance to get the ball back with a stop. But rookie Jacquizz Rodgers carried a pair of Lions defenders the final two yards of an inspired 5-yard first-down run, cementing Atlanta's big road victory.
Play of the Game:Turner's 50-yard run in the third quarter kept Detroit's defense honest and helped put him over the 100-yard mark for the second week in a row. Turner finished up with 122 rushing yards, but his 50-yard run was by the far the most impressive. The running back took the handoff and weaved through the trash in the middle of the field, breaking two tackles on his way to his 50-yard gain. Turner's persistent running all day kept Detroit's defense focused on the run and helped neutralize the Lions' pass rush.
Player of the Game:After bringing down the interception late in last week's game to stop the Panthers and hand the ball back to the Falcons offense, defensive tackle Corey Peters stepped up big again this week. On the day he had three tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and two passes defensed. His batted ball in the fourth quarter helped overturn a pass interference call and gave Atlanta new life to stop the driving Lions defense.
Turning Point:Ryan's touchdown pass to White with 30 seconds remaining in the first half helped take Atlanta's momentum into the second half. The Falcons played well in the first half but the offense hadn't yet had a strong strike against the Lions' impressive defense. With little time remaining White caught Ryan's pass with his finger tips in the endzone and gave the Falcons the 17-6 lead and enough room to breath as the Lions mounted their best surge toward the lead in the third quarter.
Stat of the Game:8 percent. The Falcons defense held Detroit's high-powered offense to a staggering 8 percent conversion rate on third downs. Detroit coverted only 1-of-12 opportunities, the one coming in the third quarter on a Johnson caught pass.
Tweet of the Game:One of the Falcons fans that made the trek to Detroit to follow her team was @FalconsDiva28 who tweeted this from the game as she stood inside the notoriously loud Ford Field: "Note to self: bring earplugs the next time I come to Ford Field.
atldet11." The Falcons did have four false starts on the day, but they managed to overcome the miscues and not let the acoustically-optimized crowd derail their game plan. Ryan and the Falcons repeatedly returned to the running game and no-huddle looks to marginalize the crowd at critical points.
Quote of the Day:Heading into their bye week next Sunday with two straight wins, including Sunday's big win over the Lions, is significant for Atlanta's confidence for the rest of the season. Safety Thomas DeCoud said it best after the game, explaining the importance of two impressive wins to usher in next week's off date: "Being able to build momentum in a week where we can get healthy is huge. It's always good to into that week with a 'W' so we can get that momentum built; there's not anything that can slow us down."