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First-half observations: Lions fortunate and aggressive, but trailing Atlanta, 14-10

Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News

Matt Schoch breaks down the Detroit Lions' performance during the first half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford hands the ball off to running back Adrian Peterson during the first half.

We knew the schedule was soft and there was a chance the Lions could pull fans back in for some crucial midseason games.

Detroit has a chance for a second straight road win Sunday against Atlanta, though the Lions trail 14-10 at halftime.

Before we get to the second half, here are some key takeaways from the first half of play:

►Don’t forget those calls, Lions fans: Lions fans are preordained to believe everyone is against them. The league, the refs, the Fords … everyone is conspiring to ruin our Sundays. Sometimes we’re right.

But we Michiganders sometimes don’t remember the breaks that go our way.

The first quarter roughing the passer penalty against A.J. Terrell on Matthew Stafford was a fortunate one for the Lions and gave Detroit four extra points.

More: Follow live updates from the second half 

That difference between a touchdown to open the scoring and a field goal could prove big later.

Later, former Lions wide receiver Brandon Powell had a touchdown taken off the board because of a call on a pick play on Calvin Ridley. Atlanta did score anyways, but it was points off the board at the time.

That’s two big calls directly impacting the scoreboard.

And Atlanta fans may be right to gripe about it.

►Ryan turned up the aggression: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan made bad reads early on third down, throwing short of the first-down markers and not giving his wide receivers chances to run with the ball.

The Detroit defense should get some credit for that. Despite being without Trey Flowers (likely because of a wrist injury that impacted him this week), the defensive front was effective early.

But Ryan turned things around in the second quarter, hitting Ridley for a few nice completions, including a third down throw from his end zone. Ryan closed the 98-yard scoring drive by taking take the lead on a Ridley touchdown.

►Big fourth-down stop could prove crucial: Prior to the Atlanta drive, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-1 deep in Atlanta territory.

Predictably, the Lions handed it to Adrian Peterson, an automatic call for most of his career.

But Dante Fowler Jr. came in untouched and made a great hit to cause the turnover on downs.

Most of #LionsTwitter loved going for it, but hated the call, especially with D’Andre Swift looking good this year in short yardage.

Overall though, this could be a sign that coach Matt Patricia is becoming more aggressive in his game calling. He was very conservative in years one and two, piling up losses.

It could be a good thing overall, but it cost the Lions points this time.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.