Falcons running back Todd Gurley tried his best to stop.
When Atlanta lined up for a first-and-goal at Detroit's 10-yard line with 1:12 left in the game, trailing 16-14, the Falcons wanted to run the clock out before kicking the game-winning field goal. Gurley, however, broke multiple tackles before getting free and seeing nothing but the end zone ahead of him. Knowing Atlanta's plan, Gurley tried at the last second to get down, but his momentum carried him across the goal line.
With 64 seconds remaining on the clock, the Lions drove the ball 75 yards and scored a game-winning touchdown on an 11-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to T.J. Hockenson.
"I was mad as hell," Gurley said of his last touchdown. "I was trying not to, my momentum took me in. It's kind of crazy, the last time I played Detroit, I went down and this time I end up scoring. It's like, what goes around comes around."
The Falcons discussed the notion of avoiding getting into the end zone after Gurley picked up a first down on an impressive third-down run that forced the Lions to burn their final timeout. Atlanta expected Detroit to give it a shot at the end zone, hoping to get the ball back for one last opportunity to win the game, and Gurley's mistake played right into that strategy.
"We knew that was kind of going to be their ideal choice for us to get in the end zone so they could have a chance to go down there and score," Morris said. "So, we wanted to take the knee on the [1-yard line] and he obviously tried, and he fell in the end zone at the last second there, getting tripped up a little bit."
Detroit played well against Atlanta's run game all afternoon, allowing just 66 yards on the ground. Gurley led the Falcons with 63 yards on 23 carries, and he scored two touchdowns. That second touchdown, however, is one he'd like to have back.
While the situation was clear for every Falcons player, including Gurley, that doesn't necessarily make his responsibility any easier, as Matt Ryan pointed out after the game.
"That's a tough position as a player," Ryan said. "When you're lowering your pads and the momentum of trying to get yards is there, that's a difficult spot to be in. It's just a disappointing way for that game to end."
Ryan maneuvered the Falcons into position for that final touchdown run, and he played well for much of the game. The NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 6 completed 31 passes for 338 yards and a touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley.
Atlanta's offense benefitted from Gurley's performance for much of the game, though. And while the didn't light up the box score, Ryan was appreciative of the performance Gurley put together.
"He played his ass off, he really did," Ryan said. "It was tough sledding for him in the run game but he's so physical and wore them down at the end and had some great runs. Todd is a great teammate and he is an unbelievable competitor. I thought he played hard."
Still, while he played well against a defense clearly focused on stopping Atlanta's top offensive weapons, Gurley understands the final offensive play was the most important one of the game. For as mad as he stated he was after scoring that last touchdown, Gurley isn't absolving himself of the responsibility for the game's turnout either.
"It's like you can put the blame on that, put the blame on this," Gurley said. "I'm not that type of person. I'll man up and take the responsibility. I tried to go down but I didn't. Trying is not good enough. Just have to do better on my behalf."
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.