Whew.. another tight win for the Atlanta Falcons yesterday over the Lions. The six-pack is gone, along with the heart medication bottle. It was a game where the outcome didn’t even look significantly close on the stat sheet, but literally came down to a few inches on the field.
September 26th, 2014. The Falcons battled the Lions on Sunday morning in London. A game where the Falcons gave up a double-digit lead and gave the Lions a chance to win on field goal in the closing seconds of the game. However, with :02 seconds left on the game clock and the Lions down by one, a delay of game penalty came in. As we all remember that wasn’t the end of the game though, as the Lions backed the ball up just five yards and Matt Prater drilled the game winner for the Lions victory. After that season, Roger Goddell made the ten second runoff rule which would have meant the Falcons would have won the game that year against the Lions.
Fast forward two years later and the tides are turned. Same two teams, two days off from being the same exact date in which they met two years ago and here we are as the rule backfires on the Lions this time. With a game-winning drive in hand of Matthew Stafford and the Lion’s offense, the Lions had a 3rd and goal from the one yard line with just over ten seconds to go while down by four points. Stafford throws the pass to Golden Tate on a quick slant route and Tate makes the catch and falls into the endzone for the touchdown with :08 seconds remaining… or was it? After further review, the play was overturned as it was shown that Tate was touched down by Brian Poole with about a six inch gap between the ball and the goal line.
Now you’re thinking that it’s 4th and goal from the inch yard line for the Lions. Perhaps that would have been the case two years ago, but remember that new and significant rule that was proposed because of a Falcons-Lions game in 2014? Well that plays big here. The Lions had no timeouts remaining, so since the play was ruled a touchdown, the clock stopped. But it was not ruled a touchdown after review and that concluded in a ten second runoff which ended the game resulting in a 30-26 Falcons victory. The Falcons moved to 3-0 and are now the only team that holds an undefeated record in the NFC.
Outside of the final two minutes, the Falcons looked great on both sides of the ball. It was a gritty game played on the road in a very loud environment, plus the Brotherhood was missing a few key players, including Vic Beasley, Courtney Upshaw and starting right tackle, Ryan Schraeder. Matt Ryan threw for 294 and two touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions including a pick-six, but the only interception that you can pin the blame on Ryan for was that one returned for six points. The other two bounced off of receiver’s hands before finding its way into a Lions player’s basket.
Devonta Freeman came to play yesterday, racking up 106 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown. Julio Jones led the receiving corps with 12 catches and 91 yards. The defense was superb as well, giving up just 264 passing yards to the now highest paid player in NFL history, Matthew Stafford. They held the running game of the Lions to 71 yards and didn’t allow a run of over 11 yards. Brian Poole led the way with eight tackles, followed by Deion Jones with a close six. It was also a game where Matt’s ruled, so if you had a guy with the name Matt in your starting fantasy lineup, then I would say chances are that you faired pretty well. In your standard scoring league, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford had 17 fantasy points each, while kickers Matt Bryant (12) and Matt Prater (14) both had double-digit performances.
The Falcons head home to face the Bills next Sunday afternoon before heading into an early, week 5 bye.