Falcons Vs. Lions: Atlanta Finally Reaches Winning Record, Bye Week Up Next

The Falcons move to 4-3, their first pleasing record of the season, with a bye and the winless Colts on the way. Matt Ryan and Ovie Mughelli suffered injuries; Ryan returned, but Mughelli didn't.

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Falcons Vs. Lions Final Score: Falcons Get The 23-16 Road Victory, Climb To 4-3

Well, on the first play of the fourth quarter Matt Ryan made a critical mistake. His pass floated just over the reach of Tony Gonzalez and right into the hands of a waiting Amari Spievey in the end zone, killing any chance of a score. Inconsistent is what Matty Ice has been all game: sometimes he looks elite, other times he could be a rookie.

Fortunately, the Lions offense couldn't get anything going, and the defense forced a very quick three and out. A nice 15-yard return by Eric Weems (he's had a great day) had the offense beginning their drive at the Detroit 45.

But good news seems like it's always followed by bad news. In this case, it was more injury news: Ovie Mughelli knee took a pretty bad beating on a short reception, and unlike Ryan he needed help of the trainers to walk off the field. That's a big loss for the Falcons.

But on that same set of downs, the Falcons went for it on fourth down and a defensive holding penalty would allow a free first down and keep the drive alive. After a 14-yard completion to Roddy White however, the drive would stall. Thankfully, Matt Bryant hits field goals as if his life depended on it, nailing on from 40 yards out. With about nine minutes left in this football game, that now gives the Falcons a seven-point lead.

The defense followed that up with another good series, forcing yet another three and out of the Lions' struggling offense. A combination of good pressure and a little bit of inaccuracy on the part of Matt Stafford has limited the Lions to zero first downs this quarter.

So the offense took over again, and on first down Ryan hooked up with now-starting fullback Jason Snelling for 18 yards. They'd keep things moving with a nice run by Turner, and then a pass to Jacquizz Rodgers that would draw a facemask. Suddenly, the Falcons looked to be in great position to put things away.

And then Garrett Reynolds got called for false start twice in a row. Twice in a row. That moved the Falcons out of field goal range, and put the Falcons ultimately in third and 18. Ryan's pass, intended for Roddy White, was nowhere near where it needed to be (pressure probably had something to do with that). But 10 penalties for 90+ yards on the day is simply not the kind of football this team can afford to play.

Penalties prevented a Falcons score, and so now it would be on the defense to stop the Lions- still trailing by seven points- one more time. After forcing a fourth and five however, Stafford would find Brandon Pettigrew and convert for the first down. A helmet-to-helmet penalty would award the Lions with fifteen extra yards.

And then a confusing pass interference call against the Falcons would be reversed because Corey Peters managed to tip the ball at the line. That would bring up the second fourth down of the drive. This time, the Falcons would get great pressure on Stafford and Pettigrew couldn't come up with the catch.

The Falcons would run down the clock with Michael Turner, and narrowly escape Ford Field with a 23-16 "upset" road victory. At the end of the day, penalties were probably the difference in this one. But then again, at the end of the day Falcons win. They'll climb to 4-3, above .500 for the first time this year. Always great to head into your bye week with some momentum.

For more on this game visit Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Lions blog Pride Of Detroit, plus SB Nation Detroit.

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Falcons Vs. Lions Halftime Score: Matt Ryan, No-Huddle Offense Puts Falcons Up 17-6

Interesting start to this second quarter. The Lions began the quarter having just lost the lead after allowing the Falcons to score a touchdown, which itself was forced by a timely turnover on special teams (timely for Atlanta, that is).

So, the Lions finally had achieved their first first-down of the game, and were driving deep into Atlanta territory. Then on third and seven, there was some apparent miscommunication between Stafford and Titus Young, and Stafford threw to a wide open Brent Grimes in the end zone. Like, Grimes was all alone. And he dropped what was a "gimme" interception.

It's not the end of the world, but it could have kept the Lions from scoring at all. Instead Jason Hanson would hit his second field goal of the day, cutting the Falcons lead to 10-6.

The Falcons took over on offense, and managed to manufacture a long, methodical drive that took some time off the clock, but yet again Matt Ryan looked pretty shaky. He was then sacked by Cliff Avril on third-down for a nine-yard loss, effectively killing the drive. On the plus side, Matt Bosher continues to look better: he pinned the Lions inside their own 10-yard line.

The Lions took over again, and after the defense allowed a 25-yard gain on a Stafford-Johnson connection, on the very next play Brent Grimes made an absolutely beautiful play to jump up and at the highest point tip the ball out of Calvin Johnson's grasp. More miscommunication between Stafford and Titus Young would end the Lions' drive.

And then the Falcons would put together what I would call their best offensive drive of the season. With 3:30 left in the half, Matt Ryan would lead the offense on seven-play, 81-yard scoring drive (I should mention, this was all while running the no-huddle). It was flawless execution and mistake-free, highlighted by a 30-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez and a 19-yard run by Michael Turner.

To cap off the drive, Ryan- who has struggled with the deep ball all year- made probably his best throw of the year. On a second down pass out of shotgun, Ryan hit Roddy White in stride on a deep corner route in the back of the end zone (over ex-Falcon Chris Houston, I might add).

With that score, the Falcons enter halftime with a 17-6 lead over the (5-1) Detroit Lions. As I said, it has not been a pretty game. But the defense has been fantastic. The offense has been able to put capitalize on turnovers, and Ryan put together a great two-minute drill at the end of the half. And for once, the Falcons have gotten great play out of Eric Weems and special teams.

Should the Falcons be able to make it through the dreaded third quarter and cut down on the penalties, the Dirty Birds just might walk out of Ford Field with a win. Stay tuned.

For more on this game visit Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Lions blog Pride Of Detroit, plus SB Nation Detroit.

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Falcons Vs. Lions Update: Matt Ryan Interception Leads To Lions Field Goal

Weird start to this one, Falcons fans. The Falcons came into this game with both Julio Jones and Sam Baker listed as inactive. Thus in a game that should be dominated by defense, the offense needs to take advantage of every opportunity possible.

But in a theme consistent with several other games this year, the offense let the defense down after a promising start. Detroit began the game with the ball, but some great pressure on third and five would force an incompletion and a three-and-out. Playing on the road against a tough team like the Lions, that's exactly how you want to start.

On offense though, it was the same old story: penalties and miscues. A false start on Garrett Reynolds put the Falcons in second and long, and a Michael Turner dropped pass (shocker) led to third-and-long. Matt Ryan's throw intended for Roddy White didn't have enough pepper on it, and was snatched away by Lions cornerback Eric Wright for the interception.

Following that pick, the Lions would start on the Atlanta 15 but two consecutive sacks (one by John Abraham, one by Sean Weatherspoon on a blitz) would eliminate any threat of a touchdown. Jason Hanson's 41-yard field goal attempt was good, and Detroit would take an early 3-0 lead in this one.

Perhaps even more frustrating was that, like so many other times, a penalty would eliminate a big play. Eric Weems returned a kickoff 104 yards all the way to the house, but a block-in-the-back penalty would call it back to the 20-yard line. So. Agonizing. To. Watch. Stay tuned.

For more on this game visit Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Lions blog Pride Of Detroit, plus SB Nation Detroit.

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Falcons Vs. Lions Injury Report: Julio Jones, Sam Baker Out; Rashied Davis Out For Detroit

The Atlanta Falcons will take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field minus rookie reciever Julio Jones, who's missing his second game after hurting a hamstring. Starting left tackle Sam Baker will also miss the game due to a back injury, along with nickel back Christopher Owens, who'd been declared out earlier in the week. The complete list of Atlanta's inactives:

Julio Jones, Chris Owens, Darrin Walls, Brett Romberg, Sam Baker, Carlton Powell, Cliff Matthews.    

Expect Harry Douglas and Will Svitek to get the starts at receiver and tackle as Kelvin Hayden takes over the defensive back slot. The good news: defensive end John Abraham and center Todd McClure are in after being listed as questionable, along with guard Garrett Reynolds.

Here's Detroit's list of inactives:

Willie Young, Drew Stanton, Jahvid Best, Vincent Fuller, Jason Fox, JJ Finley, Rashied Davis.    

For more on this game visit Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Lions blog Pride Of Detroit, plus SB Nation Detroit.

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