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.