Recap: Lions' comeback attempt falls short in 20-16 loss to Falcons

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Backup quarterback Tim Boyle made some big throws for the Detroit Lions on Sunday in Atlanta, but his biggest throw of the day was intercepted at the goal line with just over 30 seconds left in the game to seal the Lions' fate in a 20-16 loss to the Falcons.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell opted for a field goal with just over two minutes to go in a seven-point game, which proved to be the right decision as Jalen Reeves-Maybin forced a fumble to give Detroit the ball at Atlanta's 37.

But even after moving the ball successfully, Boyle didn't see a plethora of Falcon defenders over the middle as he let go of a ball that'd lose Detroit the game.

Final leaders


DET - Tim Boyle: 24/34, 187 yds., TD, INT

ATL - Matt Ryan: 18/24, 215 yds., TD


DET - Jamaal Williams: 19 atts., 77 yds.

ATL - Mike Davis: 7 atts., 28 yds.


DET - Amon-Ra St. Brown: 9 recs., 91 yds., TD

ATL - Kyle Pitts: 6 recs., 102 yds.

Lions quarterback Tim Boyle (12) warms up before the first half Sunday against the Falcons.

Boyle intercepted at goal line to seal Lions' fate

The Falcons take over at their own 25.

Cordarrelle Patterson rushes for 3, and Detroit will start using its timeouts.

Timeout #1 Detroit (2:33 4th)

Mike Davis goes for no gain.

Timeout #2 Detroit (2:28 4th)

With Russell Gage on the verge of picking up the first down, Jalen Reeves-Maybin forces a fumble that's recovered by Dean Marlowe at the Atlanta 37. Holy smokes.

Falcons 20, Lions 16 (2:18 4th)

Craig Reynolds rushes for 4 yards on first down, and that'll take us to the two-minute warning.

Reynolds gets 4 more to bring up third-and-2, where Tim Boyle hits Brock Wright for a gain of 5. 

Jamaal Williams runs for 8, and the Lions have it at the Atlanta 16.

Timeout #1 Atlanta (0:44 4th)

Boyle hits Tim Kennedy for 8 yards to bring up first-and-goal at the 9.

Timeout #3 Detroit (0:39 4th)

Boyle is intercepted over the middle on the next play and that'll seal it for the Falcons.

FINAL: Falcons 20, Lions 16

Lions add FG to trim deficit in 4Q

Detroit takes over at its own 26, trailing 20-13.

Josh Reynolds gets open for a 23-yard completion on first down to reach the Atlanta 49. Jamaal Williams rushes the next three plays to move the chains again and bring up first-and-10 at the Atlanta 37.

Another false start on Detroit backs them up 5 more yards.

A pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown and run by Craig Reynolds gets the Lions back to third-and-6. Reynolds runs for 5, going down just short of the sticks. The Lions will go for it, and Williams gets enough with a 2-yard run.

Kalif Raymond gets 5 yards on an end-around, and the Lions end up with another fourth-and-1 just a few plays later. Boyle hits Raymond for a 4-yard completion to again keep the drive alive. It's first-and-10 at the 13.

A second-down pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown picks up 8 yards to the 5, and it'll be third-and-2. Reynolds is absolutely hammered for a loss of 3, and the Lions will opt for a field goal.

Falcons 20, Lions 16 (2:38 4th)

Falcons take 20-13 lead on Lions to start 4Q

Atlanta takes over at its own 29 in a 13-13 game, quickly picking up a first down with a 9-yard run and 3-yard pass.

Two more plays give the Falcons first-and-10 at the 49 of Detroit, where Matt Ryan finds Russell Gage for a 13-yard pickup to the Detroit 36, bringing the third quarter to a close.

END 3RD: Lions 13, Falcons 13 

Matt Ryan hits Kyle Pitts for a 19-yard gain, then hits Hayden Hurst for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Falcons an early fourth-quarter lead.

Falcons 20, Lions 13 (13:04 4th)

Lions tie Falcons with FG

The Lions take over at the 25, trailing 13-10 in the third quarter.

Jamaal Williams rushes for 10, and Craig Reynolds picks up another first down a few plays later to set up first-and-10 at the 43.

Amon-Ra St. Brown takes off for a 12-yard gain with the same run that gave the Lions a first down in the first quarter, and it'll be first-and-10 at the 37.

Injury alert: Lions wide receiver Shane Zylstra is carted off after suffering an apparent leg injury.

Tim Boyle then hits St. Brown near the left sideline for a gain of 24 to the Atlanta 13.

A false start sets the Lions back. They take another one after a 2-yard run by Reynolds. It's second-and-18, and the Lions don't get very far from there.

Riley Patterson makes a 37-yard field goal to go 9-for-9 to start the half.

Lions 13, Falcons 13 (3:06 3rd)

Lions go 3-and-out as Falcons take 13-10 lead

The Lions take over at their own 25 to start the second half. They're tied with the Falcons at 10.

The Lions are forced off the field quickly, as a third-down incompletion to Josh Reynolds ends the drive.

Lions 10, Falcons 10 (13:30 3rd)

The Falcons take over at their own 11 after an excellent punt by Jack Fox.

The Falcons pick up 9 on first down, but take a holding penalty on second down to bring up second-and-11.Kyle Pitts moves the chains with an 18-yard pickup, then hauls in a 35-yard pass down the sideline to make it first-and-10 at the 35.

The Lions force third-and-5, where Jalen Reeves-Maybin flies through the middle of the line untouched and forces Ryan to throw the ball into no-man's land.

Younghoe Koo kicks a 48-yard field goal to put the Falcons up 3.

Falcons 13, Lions 10 (10:11 3rd)

Falcons tie Lions at 10 before halftime

The Falcons work their way down the field, reaching the Detroit 38 as the two-minute warning hits.

Mike Davis rushes for 3 and the next two passes go incomplete.

Younghoe Koo's 53-yard field goal is good.

Lions 10, Falcons 10 (1:04 2nd)

The Lions will take over at their own 25 with 1:04 left in the half and two timeouts left.

Tim Boyle hits Amon-Ra St. Brown for completions of 8 and 6 yards to start the drive. Boyle's next two passes miss the mark, bringing up third-and-10. The third-down pass is caught for only a gain of 8, and they'll let the clock run all the way down to 3 seconds before calling timeout.

The Hail Mary is unsuccessful, and that'll take us into halftime.

END 2ND: Lions 10, Falcons 10 

Lions use fake punt to take 10-7 lead on Falcons

The Lions take over at the 25, trailing 7-3.

After a false start before first down, Jamaal Williams rushes for 14 yards to the 34. Craig Reynolds rushes for 5 on second down to move the chains, but is then dropped for a loss of 2.

Reynolds makes a really difficult catch on the next play that goes for 14 yards and another first down at the Atlanta 49.

Williams gets a handoff on third-and-5 and comes up a few inches short, but the Lions are going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Atlanta 40.

Timeout #1 Detroit (5:31 2nd)

A false start on Jonah Jackson pushes the Lions back to fourth-and-6, but Dan Campbell runs a fake punt and converts with a 21-yard pass from Jack Fox to KhaDarel Hodge. Unreal. It's first-and-10 at the 21.

Atlanta forces third-and-6, where Tim Boyle finds Amon-Ra St. Brown for a 20-yard Lions touchdown. 

Lions 10, Falcons 7 (3:44 2nd)

Falcons take 7-3 lead to start 2Q

Atlanta takes over at the 46 after a 13-yard punt return. 

Matt Ryan finds Hayden Hurst for a 9-yard gain on the first play of the drive, and that'll bring the first quarter to a close.

END 1ST: Lions 3, Falcons 0 

A 3-yard run gives the Falcons first-and-10 at the 42 of Detroit. Russell Gage hauls in a 15-yard pass on the next play to set up a first down at the 27.

After a 2-yard run, Ryan hits former Lion Marvin Hall for a 10-yard gain to the Detroit 15. 

The Falcons end up third-and-1 after an 8-yard completion to Pitts, where Ryan unsuccessfully tries to sneak it.

Cordarrelle Patterson finds the edge on third down to put Atlanta on top with his 11th touchdown of the year.

Falcons 7, Lions 3 (10:53 2nd)

Lions, Falcons trade 3-and-outs to end 1Q

The Falcons take over at the 25, trailing 3-0.

Two short runs bring up third-and-6, where A.J. Parker makes a beautiful pass breakup to end the drive early.

Atlanta's punt is downed at the 10.

Lions 3, Falcons 0 (1:49 1st)

Craig Reynolds rushes for 5 and Jason Cabinda hauls in a 2-yard pass, but is hurt during the play. Boyle's third-down pass misses the mark to end the drive.

Lions 3, Falcons 0 (0:17 1st)

St. Brown leads Lions to FG on opening drive

The Lions take over at their own 38, and Tim Boyle will lead Detroit onto the field.

He hits Josh Reynolds for a gain of 13 on first down. After Jason Cabinda makes it third-and-6 with a 4-yard catch, Amon-Ra St. Brown comes up with an 8-yard gain to pick up another first down at the Atlanta 37.

A 2-yard run by Jamaal Williams and 7-yard run by St. Brown sets up third-and-1, but a neutral-zone infraction gives the Lions a free first down at the 23.

A 1-yard gain and 3-yard loss sets up third-and-12: Tim Boyle's third-down pass to St. Brown is caught for a gain of 13 to the Atlanta 12.

Williams' next two carries set up third-and-5, where Boyle's pass to Reynolds goes incomplete. He had St. Brown underneath, but just threw it to the wrong guy.

Riley Patterson puts home a 26-yard field goal.

Lions 3, Falcons 0 (3:25 1st)

Lions sack Ryan twice on opening drive

The Falcons will take over at their own 19 to start vs. the Lions.

Lions rookie Derrick Barnes chases down Matt Ryan for no gain on first down, and a 1-yard loss on second down brings up third-and-11. Kyle Pitts moves the chains with a 13-yard gain.

Then it's rookie defensive tackle Alim McNeill coming up with a big play, sacking Matt Ryan for a loss of 3 after a 3-yard gain on first down. Austin Bryant sacks Ryan for another loss on third down, and this defense is buzzing.

Kalif Raymond returns the punt 19 yards to the Detroit 38.

Lions 0, Falcons 0 (11:01 1st)


The Detroit Lions are riding high into Atlanta this Sunday for a showdown with the Falcons, as they look to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

There's just one problem: Detroit's starting quarterback didn't make the trip. Jared Goff was unable to get off the COVID list in time to face the Falcons, and that means we're heading for another round of fun with backup Tim Boyle.

The Falcons, meanwhile, are fresh off a crushing defeat to the 49ers that all but crushed their playoff hopes.

Can the Lions finish off Atlanta with a second straight win? Or will the Falcons rebound to keep their slim chances alive?

Lions at Falcons

 Kickoff: 1 p.m., Sunday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

► TV/radio: Fox/97.1

► Records: Lions 2-11-1, Falcons 6-8

► Line: Atlanta by 6.5