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(Sunday, October 23rd)
Final Score: Atlanta 23, Detroit 16
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Matt Ryan's touchdown pass to Roddy White late in the second quarter proved to be the difference as Atlanta downed Detroit, 23-16, at Ford Field.
Ryan went just 20-of-34 for 218 yards and two interceptions, and added a rushing touchdown for the Falcons (4-3), who have won consecutive games for the first time this season.
"It's a good football team over there and we knew we were going to have to put forth our best effort to come out of here with the win," said Ryan. "We gutted it out today and that's what you have to do when you're on the road."
Michael Turner carried the ball 27 times for 122 yards while White finished the game with five catches for 52 yards, along with the 18-yard score late in the first half.
Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez caught five balls for 62 yards and his fourth catch of the game, a two-yard grab during the drive that saw White score, was the 1,103rd of his career, moving him past Marvin Harrison for second all-time on the NFL reception list.
"I've played with a bunch of good quarterbacks in my career and they deserve more of the credit for my success than anything I've ever done," said Gonzalez of the record. "But, I never dreamed I could accomplish something like this when I first started out."
Matthew Stafford passed for 183 yards and a score on 15-of-32 attempts while Calvin Johnson caught his 10th touchdown pass of the season and finished the game with five catches for 115 yards for the Lions (5-2), who have dropped their past two after starting the season with five straight wins.
"When we look at the game tomorrow we're going to talk about missed opportunities," said Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz. "We had our chances on offense, defense and special teams today, but we didn't take advantage of them."
The game saw sloppy play on both sides of the ball as there was a total of 21 penalties for 164 yards, with Atlanta flagged 11 times.
Trailing by 11 points, Detroit finally got the big play it had been looking for when Stafford used a fake end around to find Johnson over the middle and the big receiver broke a tackle on his way to a 57-yard score to make it a 20-16 game with 1:57 to go in the third quarter.
A 50-yard run down the right sideline by Turner got the ball to the Detroit 20, but Ryan was picked off by Amari Spievey on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Detroit was unable to move the chains and had to punt, giving Atlanta the ball back at the Detroit 47. Nine plays later, Matt Bryant put the ball through the uprights from 40 yards out for a 23-16 lead with 8:41 to play.
The Lions were forced to a three-and-out and eventually forced a punt from Atlanta, but only after the Falcons had run off over four minutes of the clock.
Johnson caught a 19-yard pass on the first play. Later in the drive, after a Brandon Pettigrew seven-yard completion, a personal foul call by Atlanta on fourth down moved the ball past midfield.
On 3rd-and-10, Stafford threw a pass to Tony Scheffler that fell incomplete, but pass interference was called on Atlanta. However, a replay was called and it showed that the ball had been tipped by a defender before reaching Scheffler, negating the pass interference call.
The fourth down pass fell incomplete and Atlanta killed off the rest of the clock after getting a first down and forcing Detroit to burn all its timeouts.
Stafford was hurt on his final play as an Atlanta defender fell on his leg and the quarterback limped off the field. The extent of the injury is unknown, but Stafford said he was feeling fine.
"The guy fell on me a little bit awkward," Stafford said. "I'm moving around okay right now, so we'll see."
The first points of the game went to Detroit courtesy of a turnover as Eric Wright picked off Ryan and took the ball down to the Atlanta 15. However, Stafford was sacked on consecutive plays and the team had to settle for a 43- yard field goal from Jason Hanson with 10:26 left in the first.
Eric Weems returned the ensuing kickoff 104 yards into the end zone, but it was called back on an illegal block penalty and Atlanta eventually punted.
Detroit got nowhere and had to punt, with Weems returning this one 37 yards to the Detroit 26 with no flags. However, the Falcons were unable to take full advantage of the short field and a 23-yard field goal from Bryant tied the game with 3:01 left in the first.
On the kickoff, Detroit was stopped at the 11, but an offsides call forced Atlanta to kick again. This time, Stefan Logan fumbled the ball and the Falcons recovered the ball at the Detroit 28.
A 15-yard catch from White on 3rd-and-12 moved the chains and a pass interference call moved the ball to the one. Ryan kept the ball himself to make it a 10-3 game in the final seconds of the first quarter.
Detroit answered with a nine-play march that covered 50 yards, but the drive stalled at the Atlanta 20 and a 38-yard field goal from Hanson made it a 10-6 game.
Following an exchange of punts, Atlanta had the ball at its own 19 and following a first down, Gonzalez caught a pass for 30 yards to get the ball across midfield. Turner followed with a 19-yard catch and two plays later, Ryan lofted a pass to the right corner that saw White come up with the over- the-shoulder catch for an 18-yard score and a 17-6 lead with 25 seconds left in the half.
On its second touch of the third quarter, Detroit started a drive near midfield and Maurice Morris took the ball 31 yards down to the Atlanta six. However, the drive stopped there and Hanson lined up for a 34-yard field goal, which was blocked but an offside call on Atlanta gave him another chance and he put the 29-yard attempt through the uprights to make it a 17-9 game with 7:37 to play in the third.
Atlanta benefited from a 49-yard catch by Harry Douglas on its next possession that saw Bryant cap the drive with a 47-yard field goal for a 20-9 lead.
Ryan left the game briefly in the third quarter with a left leg injury, but returned to play...White has caught a pass in 75 straight games...Johnson has caught a pass in every game he has played...Jerry Rice is first on the all- time reception list with 1,549 catches...Atlanta has off next week while Detroit will play in Denver...Atlanta has won three of the last four games against Detroit. However, the Lions lead the all-time series, 23-11...Stafford had a stretch of at least two touchdown passes a game snapped at eight games...Morris had nine rushes for 50 yards...Atlanta rookie wide receiver Julio Jones missed the game with a hamstring injury.
10/23 20:00:28 ET
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