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Three gut reactions to Falcons game against Detroit Lions 

Falcons squeak out a close one, earning a 20-16 victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

ATLANTA -- Another Falcons game came down to the the fourth quarter. No shocker, there.

The Falcons have played so many games in this fashion. They've also won and awful lot of them.

They had not won any games, of any kind, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season entering Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

The home team had an opportunity to get the first one in Atlanta this season, holding a slim lead heading toward the two-minute warning.

They were able to hang tough and secure a much-needed victory in front of their fans.

This close contest came to the wire, with the Falcons emerging from it with a 20-16 victory over the Lions. Their record is now 7-8 on the season.

Let's take a look at three takeaways from Sunday's result:

Erasing the narrative

Head coach Arthur Smith gets asked before every game about the importance of earning home wins after failing to do so heading into Sunday.

Answering the same question repeatedly must get old, and Smith said heading into Week 16 that the Falcons would like to eliminate that narrative with a victory.

They had a real chance to do so against the Lions. This one hung in the balance with just seconds to go, with a defensive stand required in the red zone.

The Falcons got one, thanks to an interception from Foye Oluokun that secured victory, the first for the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season. It was a huge play and a huge moment for the home crowd, that also kept their ever-so-slim playoff odds alive.

Kyle Pitts in the record books

Kyle Pitts is having one memorable rookie season. The No. 4 overall NFL Draft pick is entering several record books, including the Falcons' ledger and another keeping league-wide marks.

He tied the franchise mark for receiving yards by a tight end on a 35-yard reception in the third quarter and broke it with a 19-yard grab in the fourth. Pitts bested a mark last set by Tony Gonzalez, when he had 930 yards in the 2012 season.

He's also getting closer to the all-time mark for receiving yards by a rookie tight end, which Mike Ditka set with 1,076 yards in 1961.

Pitts has two games left to break the all-time mark and cemented his season as the most productive season ever by a rookie tight end. The Florida alum was named to the Pro Bowl in his first season as well.

Head coach Arthur Smith said heading into the Lions game that Pitts has "only scratched the surface" of what he can do despite a solid first NFL season.

"No Pro Bowl, no problem"

Cordarrelle Patterson experienced a level of disappointment this week when he was left off the Pro Bowl roster. The versatile skill player may get in eventually, as a higher-level alternate at return specialist, but he wasn't in on Sunday, which prompted him to wear some holiday-themed cleats with a message.

He was no Pro Bowl, no problem. The team's offensive MVP made another big play on Sunday, with a six-yard touchdown run that was his 11th of the season. That's the highest total on the team by a longshot.

His yardage total wasn't through the roof, but he managed to make an impact in this one, as he most always does. His touchdown was key not only for the points it scored, but also because it came on 4th down. It was do-or-die, and Patterson found a way to get the job done.

The Falcons offense isn't the same without Patterson, who makes an impact on each game whether it's one play or a bunch of them.

Call for questions

Let's fill up the mailbag with this results fresh in your minds. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Monday's Bair Mail.


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