Matthew Stafford earned an F in the first half, but he was an A for most of the second half, which is the more important of the two. Over the final two quarters, Stafford was 15-of-27 for 240 yards and two touchdowns, and his 59-yard touchdown to Golden Tate was a perfect pass. Even though Stafford went 9-of-20 for 85 yards and an interception in the first 30 minutes, he played well enough to notch his 14th game-winning drive.
Down 14-0 after two drives, the Lions quickly dismissed the run game in the first half and finished the game with 47 passes compared to 23 runs on which they gained just 60 yards. Theo Riddick was excellent in the pass game with eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Joique Bell had a couple key plays, but his 39 yards on 14 carries shows there's plenty more to do.
Golden Tate, who had seven catches for 151 yards, deserves an A, but the other receivers can still do more. Corey Fuller had three catches for 43 yards, and even though Jeremy Ross had a fantastic hurdle, he had just three catches for 31 yards.
The Lions were without their top three options — Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron and Josepg Fauria — because of injuries. Matthew Stafford said he met Kellen Davis on the flight to London after signing him Monday, and the lack of chemistry was clear as Davis dropped one of his two targets. With Jordan Thompson not being targeted, the group finished with no catches.
Grade: C (on a curve)
For the first time this season, the Lions did not allow a sack. The group struggled run blocking and had three penalties, but otherwise, this unit played extremely well in the second half.
Another unit where the grades vary significantly in the two halves. The Lions created little pressure in the first half, but sacked Matt Ryan twice in the second half. Ends Jason Jones and Ezekiel Ansah forced a fumble on the two sacks, and the group overcame the absence of Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley on the interior.
Tahir Whitehead struggled in the first half, and Ashlee Palmer struggled in coverage. DeAndre Levy had seven tackles, but besides one big hit, didn't have many of his typical big plays.
Matt Ryan picked the Lions' secondary apart in the first half, but the group held its own in the second half. The Lions held wide receiver Julio Jones to 58 yards, his second lowest total this season, and cornerback Cassius Vaughn had his first interception of the season.
Matt Prater's miss doesn't go in the stats, so it doesn't count. His 48-yard winner was a beauty, and he hit two other short ones, providing the first bit of confidence in the field-goal unit in 2014. Sam Martin helped minimize Devin Hester's impact.
The coaches obviously made some good halftime adjustments, but they deserve the most blame for the players being completely lost against an inferior team in the first half. Plus, the play-calling on the final drive after reaching Atlanta territory was nearly bad enough to cost the Lions the game. Jim Caldwell was lucky to have a penalty on the Falcons on an ill-advised run on 3rd-and-9 after Atlanta coach Mike Smith called an absurd time out.