Atlanta Falcons 30-26 Detroit Lions: Falcons survive in controversial fashion

A controversial clock run-off meant Atlanta left Detroit with a 3-0 record.

Atlanta Falcons 30-26 Detroit Lions: Falcons survive in controversial fashion
Taylor Gabriel takes a pass 40 yards to the end zone. (Source: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons came out on top in a battle of undefeated teams on Sunday, beating the Detroit Lions 30-26. The win didn't come without controversy as the Falcons win came down to a referee decision with eight seconds remaining. 

Lightning Start

The Falcons looked good early on, storming to an early 7-0 lead after a six-minute drive that was capped off with a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Mohamed Sanu. The offense continued to move the ball efficiently, adding to their lead at the start of the second quarter thanks to a 36-yard field goal from Matt Bryant.

The Lions responded with a field goal of their own, a 55-yard kick from Matt Prater before Atlanta took a 17-3 lead through Devonta Freeman's one-yard run. With under two minutes remaining, the Lions found a way back into the game immediately. Prater's second kick of the day made the score 17-6 before Glover Quinn picked off Matt Ryan on the following possession, returning it 37-yards for the touchdown. 

Matt Bryant's 48-yard field goal capped off a lightning start to the game and a hectic ending to the first half.

Lions D closes the gap

Atlanta began the second half the way they ended the first half, with a long field to stretch their lead to 23-13. Matthew Stafford and Detroit responded in excellent fashion, driving 75 yards to make it a one-score game after Golden Tate's 11-yard touchdown catch. Atlanta began to falter in the third quarter with Matt Ryan's pass deflecting off of Tevin Coleman's hands before being intercepted by Darius Slay Jr. 

Ameer Abdullah makes an impressive over the shoulder catch in the second half. (Source: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)
Ameer Abdullah makes an impressive over the shoulder catch in the second half. (Source: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

The Lions capitalized yet again, adding a 57-yard field goal to tie the score at 23-23. Matt Ryan would bounce back after his second interception, regaining the lead for Atlanta with a quick screen pass to Taylor Gabriel, who weaved in and out of the defense to take it 40 yards to the house. 

The Lions would continue to put the pressure on, adding yet another field goal to make it a 30-26 game. The next Falcons possession saw Matt Ryan throw his third interception of the game. Ryan's pass, intended for Sanu, flew off the wide receiver's hands and into the hands of Darius Slay Jr. to give Detroit a chance to take their first lead of the game. 

After an exchange of punts between the two teams, renowned comeback king Matthew Stafford had another shot to lead his team to a fourth-quarter victory. A handful of defensive penalties put the Lions at the one-yard line with eight seconds remaining. A quick slant to Golden Tate was ruled a touchdown on the field, but after review, the officials deemed him down before the ball crossed the plane.

Due to a stopped clock returning to a running clock inside of two minutes, the review resulted in a 10-second runoff, which ended the game. A controversial ending to a thrilling game, meaning the Atlanta Falcons move to 3-0 while the Detroit Lions dropped to 2-1 on the season.