The Detroit Lions clinched one of the most dramatic come backs of recent times to beat the Atlanta Falcons 22-21, with a 48 yard Matt Prater field goal as time expired, to send the Wembley crowd home satisfied with a truly epic game. The pressure was on both sides to entertain the near sell-out crowd after the previous blow out between the Dolphins and the Raiders.
The Atlanta Falcons led 21-0 at halftime but the Lions rallied in the second half of the game to pull off a truly dramatic victory. The Atlanta Falcons received the opening kick-off for a touchback. A side who has struggled offensively as well as defensively for the most part of this season, drove 80 yards down the field to score an opening drive touchdown. Matt Ryan completed a long third down pass to Roddy White, keeping the drive alive. The drive was near perfection with veteran running back Jackson making yards with ease and whenever the Falcons needed a completion a receiver found themselves open. With the Falcons marching into the endzone Matt Ryan dropped into the pocket and threw a short pass to rookie running back Devonte Freeman who took it in one handed and waltzed into the endzone from seven yards untouched.
The previously struggling Atlanta Falcons defense made an impressive start forcing the Lions to punt and it was the turn of the Atlanta Falcons offense to stun the Lions defense in back to back drives. This drive was much like the opening Falcons drive, which saw balance between running and passing plays to maximum effect. On 1st and goal Ryan pulled off a play action play leaving tight end Bear Pascoe wide open all alone at the back of the endzone to receive the one yard touchdown, making it 14-0 to the Atlanta Falcons. Detroit were being routed so far by the 2-5 Atlanta side, but on the next Atlanta drive they ended up in the endzone following a 103 yard pick six from Rashean Mathis, only for it to be pulled all the way back for as pass interference offense on Julio Jones. Falcons made the Lions defense pay yet again, as Jackson went into the endzone untouched for his 65th career touchdown. Two plays earlier Jackson became just the 19th running back in history to go over 11,000 yards. The score was 21-0 and the Falcons were dominating on both sides of the ball, the game appeared dead. Maybe this is where the Falcons went wrong thinking the game was over, or maybe the players were just not ready for the electric start of the Lions in the second half.
The Detroit Lions drove the length of the field but were halted near the Falcons endzone at it appeared another mini victory for the team from Georgia as they forced the Lions to only take three points instead of the seven they were aiming for. Little did the Wembley crowd know the Lions had just started. The defense roared to life with a forced fumble after a sack on Matt Ryan, but the Falcons were able to recover and they punted away. It was then time for Golden Tate who scored the huge touchdown play away at the Saints last week, to score another hugely important long distance touchdown. On 3rd and 25 Stafford was given too much time, more time than any quarterback should be given when they need a deep pass completion. The quarterback unloads down field and finds Golden Tate in miles off space not even within touching distance of any defensive player and he runs into the endzone for a play which arguably changed the entire momentum of the game.
Early in the fourth quarter Prater added yet another field goal to bring the score within eight points of the ‘home side’ but the scenario which saw this field goal come about summed up the Falcons collapse pretty well. Matt Ryan rolled to the right saw no one open so threw a soft looping ball nowhere near his teammates, but instead straight to Vaughn who returned it to the redzone.
The Falcons were again let off the hook after Riddick scored a five yard touchdown pass to bring the score within two, but Stafford overthrew the two pointer. Atlanta had the ball with three minutes fifty left on the clock, yet only managed to run the clock to one minute fifty six left. The Lions drove the length of the field, albeit with the aid of some shocking clock management and play calls from Mike Smith, and as time expired Prater knocked over a 48 yard field goal as time expired to send the Lions to 6-2 and see the Falcons crash to 2-6.
Ever since the NFC Championship game against the 49ers two seasons ago the Falcons have gone 6-22 and their season appears over now. On the other side of the game the Detroit Lions two rivals Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers were both routed now sees them top the table by one win.
Both sides are on their bye weeks next week.