DETROIT — The Atlanta Falcons could not come back from a second fourth-quarter deficit in as many games, and the Detroit Lions won at home in Ford Field, 20-6.
Below is how every game recap this 2023 season will be broken down by quarter for right-at-the-buzzer consumption, starting with a note that Detroit won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.
The Falcons offense went three-and-out to kick things off, but rather than getting into that, there was notable return on defense that should be highlighted instead. Jeff Okudah, who injured his foot early into training camp and was inactive for the first two games, replaced Tre Flowers at cornerback on third down, opposite of starter A.J. Terrell. The Lions also went three-and-out to start.
(Note: Sunday marked the first time Okudah has been inside Ford Field since the Lions traded him to the Falcons this past offseason. He played in Detroit from 2020-22 after the Lions drafted him with a first-round pick.)
Atlanta ultimately ended up rotating that cornerback position, cycling Flowers, Okudah and also Mike Hughes during its second defensive drive. While the Falcons were doing that, however, the Lions were marching down the field, the first team to break into enemy territory. Detroit was stopped before it was too late and settled for a 37-yard field goal to put the first points on the board.
On the flip side, the Falcons offense wasn't able to consistently produce in the opening period. The longest drive it was able to cobble together consisted of six plays for 13 yards. The total yardage took a major hit when quarterback Desmond Ridder was sacked on back-to-back plays for a combined loss of 20 yards.
(Note: The Lions had just one sack through their first two games. Double that count in one drive against the Falcons alone.)
The Falcons were moving when time expired, though.
Lions: Riley Patterson, 37-yard field goal … 3-0, DET
End first quarter: 3-0, Lions
Well, the Falcons offense was moving until it wasn't, at least. Two plays into the second period, Atlanta finally crossed into Detroit grounds. The Falcons made it to the Lions' 30-yard line before an incomplete pass from Ridder to wide receiver Drake London brought up fourth down. Kicker Younghoe Koo then came out and tied things up with a 48-yard field goal.
The Lions didn't like that. Because once their offense came out, it put together a five-play scoring drive highlighted by a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Goff to tight end Sam LaPorta, who appeared to be wide open for the long shot.
(Note: At this point, with 10:05 remaining in the half, Goff had completed nine of his 11 pass attempts for 120 yards and the touchdown. He had not been sacked.)
Afterward, the Falcons offense went three-and-out via two incomplete passes from Ridder to tight end Kyle Pitts and a 1-yard run from running back Bijan Robinson. So, no answer.
The Lions offense was then able to essentially hot potato its way down field, going from its own 27-yard line into the Falcons' red zone via two runs and five passes. Atlanta's defense held Detroit's then-heavy ground attack from there, forcing the Lions special teams to go for a 24-yard field goal. The kick was good, extending the Lions' lead before halftime.
(Note: At this point, with 1:53 remaining in the half, Goff had completed 14 of his 17 pass attempts for 168 yards and still the sole touchdown. He still had not been sacked.)
Despite each team getting another shot at it, neither scored before time expired.
Falcons: Younghoe Koo, 48-yard field goal … 3-3, TIE
Lions: Jared Goff 45-yard pass to Sam LaPorta; Riley Patterson PAT … 10-3, DET
Lions: Riley Patterson, 24-yard field goal … 13-3, DET
Halftime: 13-3, Lions
The Falcons defense came out ready to go, forcing the Lions offense to go three-and-out to open the second half. The Falcons offense proceeded to make it to the Lions' 28-yard line before stalling out. Koo missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt, though, so the opportunity fell short for both offense and special teams.
(Note: That was Koo's first missed field goal of 2023. The last time he missed a field goal was in the Falcons' 19-13 loss to the Washington Commanders on Nov. 27, 2022.)
Really, no opportunities were cashed in on during these 15 minutes for either team, as no one added points to their score.
The Falcons had a slight scare when tight end Jonnu Smith went down with an injury after a second-and-7 incomplete pass play. He was tended to by athletic trainers on the field but walked off under his own power and avoided the medical tent. Smith did return to action in the next Atlanta offensive series.
Falcons safety Jessie Bates III ended the period on a high note, snagging his third interception of the season off Goff. Because of Bates, Atlanta began the final 15 minutes from Detroit's 43-yard line.
(Note: That was the 17th interception of Bates' career, the third with the Falcons.)
End third quarter: 13-3, Lions
Unfortunately for the Falcons, interception No. 3 for No. 3 did not turn into any points. Atlanta had running back Tyler Allgeier pick up 6 yards with his feet between two consecutive plays, but then an incomplete pass from Ridder to London kept the Falcons short by 4 yards with fourth down.
Falcons went for it, and another Ridder-to-London incompletion allowed the Lions to take over on downs at the Detroit 38-yard line.
Atlanta's defense couldn't stop Detroit, and Lions quarterback scrambled from 3 yards out to score a touchdown. That put the Lions up by 17 points.
The Falcons put a little dent into the Lions' advantage when Koo made a 24-yard field goal on the next drive, but Atlanta was in Detroit's red zone for the first time and still unable to finish the 6 yards for a bigger dent.
Atlanta linebacker Troy Andersen was injured on the following drive. He walked off under his own power but ultimately carted to the locker room. It looked like he hurt his right arm.
(Note: Andersen had just returned from concussion protocol this past week. He sat out of the Falcons' Week 2 win over the Green Bay Packers for that reason.)
That was essentially all she wrote. The Falcons had another chance on offense, but it went nowhere and Ridder took on his seventh sack of the day.
Goff kept taking a knee until the clock hit zero.
Lions: Jared Goff 3-yard run; Riley Patterson PAT … 20-3, DET
Falcons: Younghoe Koo 24-yard field goal … 20-6, DET
Final: 20-6, Lions
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