FIRST DOWN: ST. BROWN'S STREAK
The receptions, yards and touchdowns just keep piling up for rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra. St. Brown.
Already the Lions' all-time rookie receptions leader, St. Brown caught nine more passes Sunday in Atlanta for 91 yards and a touchdown in Detroit's 20-16 loss to the Falcons.
It's now four straight games St. Brown has caught at least eight passes, which ties Odell Beckham Jr. for the longest such streak by a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
"Coach is trusting me, team trusts me and I trust myself, I know what I can do," St. Brown said after the game. "I'm confident, like you said. Confidence is one of the biggest things. You can tell when guys play with confidence and I have a lot of confidence right now."
St. Brown's second quarter touchdown was the only touchdown for the Lions, and St. Brown's third in his last four games. His full game was on display in that play. He ran a nice route, gained separation, concentrated to catch the ball when the defender tried to cut in front for the ball, and showed his toughness to get into the end zone with two defenders on his back.
St. Brown now has 35 catches for 350 yards and three touchdowns in his last four games.
"There's not enough to say about St. Brown," quarterback Tim Boyle said after the game. "Very, very lucky to have him on this team."
Head coach Dan Campbell said St. Brown is in a good place right now, and he's a guy Campbell really trusts as a play caller.
SECOND DOWN: BOYLE'S SECOND START
The game certainly didn't end the way backup quarterback Tim Boyle would have hoped, with his interception at the Atlanta 1-yard line ending Detroit's comeback bid, but it was encouraging to see the improvement Boyle showed in his second career start Sunday vs. his first one in Cleveland last month.
Boyle threw for just 77 yards with two interceptions in the Browns game and never seemed to settle into the game.
That wasn't the case Sunday in Atlanta. He completed 24-of-34 passes for 187 yards and a score and looked much more comfortable running the offense. He said afterward this was the most comfortable he felt heading into a start, though he lamented the interception after the game.
"For it to end that way is just heartbreaking," Boyle said. "It's a man/zone read, if I have man I'm working one side and if I have zone I'm looking the other. I was kind of unclear breaking the huddle if it was man or zone based off the looks they gave previously. It was man coverage and I worked the zone coverage side. That was my mistake and ultimately that falls on me."
Boyle said if he'd worked the other side with St. Brown and wide receiver Josh Reynolds, they would have had a better chance to score. The linebacker did a good job tracking Boyle's eyes, and stepped in front of the pass intended for wide receiver Kalif Raymond on the other side. Ball game.
It's a play Boyle said he'll have to turn into a positive and learn from, though it certainly stung in the moment.
THIRD DOWN: FALSE STARTS
The Lions had done a better job of limiting penalties lately, especially the pre-snap ones head coach Dan Campbell talks about all the time as killers, but Sunday those penalties reared their ugly head once again.
Detroit was flagged for six false start penalties, with a couple in critical situations in the red zone.
Campbell blamed one of the six on himself for getting a play call in late and causing some disorganization toward the end of the play clock, but still, six is way too many on the offense.
A different cadence with Boyle might have played a bit of a factor, but it shouldn't have been that bad with Boyle taking first-team reps all week.
"They hurt," Campbell said of the false starts. "Those are unacceptable. You can't have them. Ultimately those things kill you and they did in the red zone (for us Sunday)."
FOURTH DOWN: ATLANTA ANSWERS
The Lions' defense forced two straight Atlanta punts to start the game. The defense also made a huge play late to force a fumble and give the offense a chance to win the game.
But in between, there was a stretch from the second quarter to early in the fourth quarter where Atlanta scored on four straight possessions. That stretch ultimately helped win the game for them. Nine plays and a touchdown, seven plays and a field goal, eight plays and a field goal, and 10 plays and the go-ahead touchdown were all the points Atlanta needed to win the game.
Every time the Lions scored, Atlanta had an answer, and their offense did enough to win Sunday.
"You know what, I felt like they were much more patient offensively," Campbell said of that four possession stretch for the Falcons. "They were much, more take what's there ... find zones and patiently, methodically move it down the field."
Atlanta decided to play the long game offensively after a couple of ineffective early series, and it worked for them.