Despite both teams shooting themselves in the foot on the game's final drive, it was Matt Stafford who looked to end the game with a touchdown pass to Golden Tate with eight seconds left. Despite being ruled a score on the field, replay overturned the call, saying Tate's knee was down short of the goal line. And since the Lions had no timeouts, there was a 10-second runoff that ended the game, meaning the Falcons escaped by inches, 30-26.
After getting bailed out by a Falcons penalty with 40 seconds remaining, the Lions found themselves with the ball at the Atlanta 33. Stafford found TJ Jones at the 19, and Jones was able to get out of bounds to stop the clock at 34 seconds. After back-to-back incompletions to Eric Ebron, Desmond Trufant was called for pass interference in the end zone, setting the Lions up at the 2 with 19 seconds remaining.
The Lions had the ball at the Atlanta 18 before Zac Kerin and Marvin Jones were called for penalties on back-to-back plays, pushing the ball back to the 38 with 57 seconds on the clock. On second down, Stafford appeared to throw an interception in the end zone, but the Falcons were called for defensive holding.
Earlier in the drive, Stafford found Jones for a 29-yard gain to get the Lions out across midfield, and followed that up with a 16-yard strike to Theo Riddick out of the backfield to get the ball to the Atlanta 29. On the next play, Stafford fled the pocket for an 11-yard gain down to the 18 before the penalties.
The Lions defense gave up 458 yards of offense to the Falcons, but they were able to force Matt Ryan into throwing three interceptions. One was a pick-six by Glover Quin late in the first half, and the other two were by Darius Slay, who slammed the door on would-be scoring drives.
Devonta Freeman ran hard for the Falcons, piling up 106 yards on 21 carries.
The Lions ground game continued to struggle, netting 71 yards on 19 carries.
Stafford finished 24-for-45 passing for 265 yards and a touchdown.
Lions force Atlanta punt to set up dramatic final drive
Julio Jones came up just shy of the first down marker and the Falcons punted the ball back to the Lions with 2:23 remaining.
Trailing 30-26, the Lions take over at their own 11.
Lions can't get it done on offense
Eric Ebron dropped a pass and the Lions pass blocking wasn't very good as they went three-and-out and were forced to punt back to the Falcons with less than three minutes remaining.
The Lions have all three timeouts and the two-minute warning in their back pocket.
Falcons forced to punt for the first time
The Lions gave up a third down conversion to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, forcing the Falcons to punt for the first time today.
With 3:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Lions down 30-26, they'll take over at their own 32.
Lions go three-and-out
The first down pass from Matt Stafford to Marvin Jones went off the hands of the veteran receiver, and the Lions were never able to recover.
Jeff Locke successfully pinned the Falcons down at the 8 with 6:48 left to play.
Falcons lead, 30-26.
Slay picks off Ryan again
The Falcons were on the verge of adding to their lead with the ball at the Lions 19, but Mohammed Sanu let a Matt Ryan throw go through his hands, where Darius Slay was waiting for his second interception of the day.
The Lions will have the ball at their own 45 with 8:03 remaining and the Lions trailing 30-26.
Prater cuts into Atlanta lead with another long FG
Matt Prater has once again hit a field goal from an absurd distance, hitting a 57-yard strike to cut the Falcons lead to 30-26 with 11:48 remaining in the game.
Prater has now hit 14 consecutive field goal tries of 50 yards or more.
Earlier in the drive, Matt Stafford hit Golden Tate with a beautiful pass to pick up a first down across midfield.
Falcons take back the lead
Devonta Freeman started the drive as a man on a mission, and the Falcons used that fear to set up a 40-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Taylor Gabriel, who showed off his speed after catching a pass near the line of scrimmage.
With 14:50 remaining, the Falcons lead 30-23.
Freeman got the drive started with runs of eight, 11 and 16 to set up the misdirection on the Gabriel touchdown.
Prater ties it up with third field goal
The Lions weren't able to pick up a first down in the red zone, settling for a 35-yard Matt Prater field goal that ties the game at 23-23 with 1:24 left to play in the third quarter.
That's Prater's third field goal of the day, and somewhat amazingly, the Lions have come back to tie this game heading into the fourth quarter.
Lions pick off Ryan again
The Falcons hurried to the line to avoid a Lions challenge on a questionable third down reception by Taylor Gabriel.
Matt Ryan looked lost in the pocket, and he threw a ball high into traffic, where Darius Slay was waiting to make the interception.
The Lions will take over at the Atlanta 21.
Tate TD cuts into Atlanta lead
Matt Stafford found Golden Tate across the middle and the former Notre Dame star did the rest, gliding into the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown that capped 12-play, 75-yard Lions drive.
With 4:51 to play in the third quarter, the Lions have cut the Falcons lead to 23-20.
A holding penalty costed the Lions a first down in Atlanta territory, but Stafford scrambled for eight yards before finding TJ Jones for 20 yards on third-and-six. Ameer Abdullah accounted for 30 total yards on the drive.
Atlanta adds field goal, Lions lose Zettel
Despite being put in a compromising position to start the second half, the Lions defense was able to keep the Falcons out of the end zone, forcing a 41-yard Matt Bryant field goal that puts the Falcons up 23-13 at the 11:37 mark of the third quarter.
Atlanta started at the Lions 41 after a big return from Andre Roberts. Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for 11 yards on the first play of the drive, but the Lions defense held strong.
Anthony Zettel left the game with an apparent leg injury during the series.
Lions offense off to slow start in second half
The Lions are off to a rough start in the second half, as the offense actually went backwards on the opening series.
Matt Stafford nearly threw an interception on first down, Ameer Abdullah lost a yard on second down and Stafford was sacked on third down.
Former Lions return man Andre Roberts set the Falcons up with good field position at the Lions 41.
Falcons add a field goal before the half
The only thing about Glove Quin's pick-six that could be viewed as a negative was that Atlanta was still going to the ball back with two timeouts and plenty of time to get some points back before the half.
The Falcons were able to get into Lions territory, but a holding penalty slowed the drive. Matt Bryant was able to salvage three points with a 48-yard field goal that stretched the Falcons lead to 20-13 with 31 seconds to play in the first half.
With three timeouts, the Lions tried to get something going, but Matt Stafford (11-for-17, 91 yards) misfired on all three pass attempts.
In the first half, Atlanta wore down the Lions defense by possessing the ball for 20:36, compared to 10:24 for the Lions offense. They outgained the Lions 223-113, while garnering 17 first downs to Detroit's seven.
Matt Ryan was 14-for-21 for 173 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Quin's pick-six picks up Lions before the half
The Lions looked to be in a lot of trouble after giving the ball back to Atlanta with just under two minutes remaining in the first half.
That's when Glove Quin stepped in front of a Matt Ryan pass and took it to the house to cut the Falcons lead to 17-13 with 1:41 left in the first half.
That was the play the Lions needed in a big way going into the break.
Lions settle for another Prater field goal
Theo Riddick couldn't haul in a pass from Matt Stafford on third-and-short, and the Lions were forced to settle for another Matt Prater field goal, this one coming form 40 yards and cutting the Atlanta lead to 17-6 with 1:50 remaining in the first half.
Matt Stafford hit Ameer Abdullah on a wheel route that netted 22 yards on first down to get the Lions going. Two plays later, Abdullah ripped off a 10-yard run to get the ball into Atlanta territory.
Falcons doing whatever they want against Lions defense
Matt Ryan is having little trouble finding holes in the Lions defense, carving them up on his way to leading a 10-play, 64-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 1-yard Devonta Freeman touchdown run.
With 5:00 to play in the first half, the Falcons are in control with a 17-3 lead.
Atlanta has 14 first downs on just three possessions, compared to four for the Lions on their two drives.
Prater gets the Lions on the board
Matt Prater once again aided a Lions offense that couldn't get too deep into the opponents territory, booting a 55-yard field goal to cut the Falcons lead to 10-3 with 10:27 to play in the second quarter.
Matt Stafford hit Marvin Jones for a 12-yard gain and a first down at the Atlanta 40, and the Lions were given 15 more yards after Deion Jones was called for unnecessary roughness on the play.
Lions penalty leads to Falcons field goal
Nevin Lawson was called for pass interference on a third-and-long play where Matt Ryan threw the ball well over Julio Jones' head. It was another mistake that ultimately cost the Lions points, as the Falcons added a 36-yard Matt Bryant field goal to take a 10-0 lead with 12:51 remaining in the second quarter.
The Lions did make a big play on the drive to force the field goal, as Anthony Zettel was able to sack Ryan on third-and-2 from the Lions 7.
Lang's bonehead penalty costs Lions
The Lions looked to have a third-and-short opportunity near midfield, but after a Theo Riddick catch, TJ Lang came in and lambasted an Atlanta player well after the catch to push the Lions back into a third-and-20.
Not a smart play by the veteran Lang. The Lions had something going, but that play killed the drive.
With 3:27 left to play in the first quarter, the Falcons lead 7-0.
Falcons opening drive nets TD
Atlanta was able to drive down to the Lions 14, and after the defense sacked Matt Ryan on first down to put the offense behind the chains, Ryan was able to somehow find Devonta Freeman for a first down at the 2. On second down, Ryan hit Mohammad Sanu at the goal line, and though the play was initially ruled short of the end zone, an Atlanta challenge put six points on the board.
The drive went 75 yards on 12 plays.
With 8:17 to play in the first quarter, the Falcons lead 7-0.
Ryan went deep on the first play of the game, but Julio Jones was unable to get a clean break on the ball in double coverage. The Lions stuffed the run on the next play, but Ryan found Sanu for a first down on third and long.
Ford stands with players, others take a knee
Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford, usually off the field well before kickoff, stayed with her three daughters to take part in what, for many, is the polarizing moment of day at today's NFL stadiums. Ford and her daughters stood with their arms locked with Jim Caldwell and the Lions players. On the other side of the field, Falcons owner Arthur Blank also stood with his arms locked together with his players.
There are sure to be many reports of different demonstrations coming from all over the NFL today, but Detroit News reporter Rod Beard tweeted about Lions players he saw kneeling, though the FOX broadcast did not show the demonstration.
Beard said that Cornelius Washington, A'Shawn Robinson, AJ Spence, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Tahir Whitehead and Jaylen Reeves-Maybin.
LIONS VS. FALCONS
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
TV/radio: FOX/WJR 760
Records: Lions 2-0, Falcons 2-0
Line: Falcons by 3