For the Falcons, it has been more of the same this quarter: good defense and poor offense.
After allowing the field goal following the Matt Ryan interception, the offense again went three and out. Ryan's third-down pass intended for Harry Douglas was easily defended by the covering Lions defensive back. Thus far, Ryan has looked very much out of his comfort zone. He needs to settle down and complete some passes.
But the defense responded with a three-and-out of their own. A first-down holding penalty put the Lions at a big disadvantage yardage-wise, and the defense simply had to hold their ground. I'll say this: the play of the secondary so far, especially Grimes' coverage of Calvin Johnson, has been great.
Then Eric Weems, whose 104-yard kickoff return was negated by a penalty, took a punt back for 36 yards and set up the offense on the Detroit 26. It was time for a score. After doing little on first- and second-downs, Ryan finally completed a pass- this one to Tony Gonzalez- for 11 yards that would keep the drive alive.
The Falcons would get the ball all the way down to the Lions five and have third-and-inches, but would inexplicably come up short. On a dive play, Turner simply tripped over a Lions defender and couldn't manage the first down. I understand the thinking- Turner is big after all- but perhaps we could call a play they don't expect?
Still, Atlanta would at least come away with some points. Matt "money" Bryant's would knock his field goal true from 23 yards out, tying the game at 3 points apiece. And then as they have done all season, the Falcons came up with a key turnover, this time on special teams. Akeem Dent would be the man to knock the ball out of return man Stefan Logan's hands, and the Falcons would recover at the Detroit 28-yard line.
Yet again, the Falcons started with excellent field position. Could they capitalize by scoring a touchdown this time?
Well, after another holding penalty (what happened to "most disciplined" Mike Smith?) Ryan would make a couple of good throws- one to Harry Douglas and a14-yard completion to Roddy White on third-down- to push the Falcons further into Lions territory.
And then we'd see three Lions penalties in a row. Two pass interferences and an "elbow to the head of the quarterback" penalty would have the ball sitting at the quarter-yard line(!!). For the second straight week, the Falcons would use a pass interference penalty to put them on the goal line, and for the second straight week Ryan would tuck it in himself for a touchdown.
Confirmed by review, the Falcons now hold a 10-3 advantage over Detroit through one quarter of play. It may not look pretty, but a lead is a lead. Man though, this is starting to look more like a preseason game than two playoff contenders.