Atlanta Falcons Found a Way to Win vs. Detroit Lions

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The Detroit Lions outplayed the Atlanta Falcons in a myriad of ways this Sunday. From the time of possession battle to conversion efficiency, the Lions outclassed the Atlanta Falcons. But somehow, someway, the Atlanta Falcons pulled out the 20-16 victory against the Detroit Lions. Arthur Smith is now 3-1 against rookie head coaches and keeps Atlanta’s minuscule playoff hopes alive. Let’s take a deeper look into how the Atlanta Falcons found a way to win against the Detroit Lions. 

Falcons Found Way to Win vs. Detroit Lions

Detroit Outplayed the Falcons

The Detroit Lions did outplay the Falcons in various aspects of this game. Let’s start with the impact players. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown carved the Falcons secondary like a Christmas ham. St. Brown was targeted 11 times by Tim Boyle. He pulled down nine of them for 91 yards while adding 19 yards on two carries on the ground. 

Jalen Reeves-Maybin played as good a game as he has played all season. He got eight total tackles, including four solos. But that’s not where he was most felt. Reeves-Maybin had a key pass deflection that stopped Atlanta’s momentum while driving and forced them to settle for a field goal. On another drive, he pressured Matt Ryan and forced him to throw the football away that led to a punt. Finally, to cap off his great day, he forced the late fumble on Russell Gage that gave the Lions a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. That’s three out of Atlanta’s eight offensive drives that he stopped. 

The Lions running game accounted for 130 yards on the ground, the first time they have done this against Atlanta since 1994. Detroit has done this to Atlanta 16 other times before Sunday. The Lions had won all 16 of those matchups. It cannot be overstated how much the Falcons were not supposed to win this game. So, how did the Falcons find a way to win this game? 

Falcons Somehow Found a Way

This offense’s success begins and ends with the success of rookie Pro-Bowl tight end Kyle Pitts. Kyle Pitts helped set up both touchdowns for the Falcons, starting with the first quarter. When the Falcons get within the 20, they have a rough time getting the ball into the end zone. They are 26th in TD red-zone efficiency with 53.33%. On second and nine at the Detroit 14, Ryan found Pitts for a crucial eight-yard gain that put them in a third and short situation. After a Ryan sneak that gave them the first down, Cordarrelle Patterson scampered around the outside for his only touchdown of the game. 

The second time was at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Kyle Pitts had three catches for 62 yards the drive before and was definitely on the radar of the Lions defense. After getting down to the Detroit 31-yard line, Ryan and company faced a third and five. Ryan had to evade initial pressure from the Lions front seven and found Pitts for a 19 yard gain in the middle of the field. On the next play, Ryan found Hayden Hurst on one of the prettier throws Ryan has had in the past few weeks. 

Ryan had a modest day where he went 18/24 for 215 yards and a touchdown. That’s good for almost 9.0 yards per attempt. The Faclons are 4-0 when Ryan’s numbers are above 7.4 YPA.

Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst, and Olamide Zaccheus stepped up to combine for eight receptions for 93 yards and the touchdown reception for Hurst. 

Final Takeaways

This is a bad team. This is a bad team that happened to catch a few breaks at the right time. With untimely penalties, an unwillingness to get into the end zone, and a late Foye Oloukon interception, the Lions found a way to gift the Falcons a late December win. There is no such thing as a bad win in the NFL unless it is the 2020 New York Jets, but there was not much good that came from this game. 

Next up for Atlanta is a Buffalo Bills team that needs as many wins as possible going into the playoffs for seeding purposes. Let’s keep watching the Oluokon interception and enjoy this win until then. 


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