Sunday, December 23, 2012
Wrap-up: Falcons 31, Lions 18
By Kevin Seifert
A few thoughts on Saturday night's events at Ford Field:
What it means: We've already discussed receiver Calvin Johnson's history-making evening. For a moment, at least, it allowed the Detroit Lions to forget they were in the midst of losing their seventh-consecutive game. Turnovers and another series of brutal decisions cost them a chance to come back from a 21-3 second-quarter deficit.
MistakeWatch: Where to start? Kick returner Stefan Logan looked lost, calling for a fair catch in the second quarter and then claiming he did not. In the fourth quarter, he inexplicably took a knee at the Lions' four-yard line after fielding a punt. The Lions also needed a timeout after their first offensive play because they weren't sure how to replace right tackle Gosder Cherilus, who appeared to have an equipment issue. Finally, Johnson and tailback Mikel Leshoure coughed up fumbles to lead to a pair of Atlanta Falcons touchdowns. The Lions were fortunate that Johnson's performance took a national television audience away from the rest of the product they put on the field.
StaffordWatch: Quarterback Matthew Stafford set an NFL record as well, but it is a dubious one that perfectly defines his season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Stafford's 443 passing yards were the most in a game when the quarterback did not throw a touchdown pass. The Lions' 18 points Sunday came on three field goals from Jason Hanson, a one-yard run by Leshoure and a late safety.
RyanWatch: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed his first 12 passes and ultimately sliced through the Lions' defense for four touchdown passes and a 142.6 passer rating. The Lions' pass rush briefly got to him in the third quarter, but it couldn't stop him on an 11-play scoring drive in the fourth quarter that extended the Falcons' lead from 21-16 to 28-16.
What's next: The Lions will close out this miserable season Dec. 30 at home against the Chicago Bears. Based on what happens Sunday, it's possible the Lions will be in position to spoil the Bears' playoff hopes.