Lions-Falcons burning questions: What the winning drive meant and proved, key plays in the first half, a big drive that got lost in the excitement and where the Lions' 23-22 win over the Falcons ranks on a list of improbable endings:
Question: What did it mean and what did it prove that quarterback Matthew Stafford led the Lions on the 75-yard drive with 1:04 left to win the game?
Answer: It means that strange things happen in pro football, and there were plenty of them Sunday. If you have a quarterback with Stafford's ability and guts, you have a chance to win.
Stafford wasn't fazed by the situation when he got into the huddle to start the final drive. That's no surprise. He had led 29 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime before Sunday's epic performance, and he had no doubt that he could make it 30.
From the first snap of the possession to the touchdown pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson on the last play of the drive, Stafford was in charge.
"All you can ask for on offense is a chance," Stafford said after the game. "We were as up against the clock as you can be.
"It's my favorite part of the game."
Question: What drive went unnoticed, but turned out to be important?
Answer: It was the last possession of the first half. The Lions got the ball back with 29 seconds left in the half. Stafford directed a five-play, 43-yard drive that ended in Matt Prater's 50-yard field goal as time expired in the half.
The three points proved to be crucial to the outcome.
Question: What were the key plays in the first half?
Answer: There were two, and both favored the Falcons in the second quarter.
First was the defensive stop when the Lions went for it on fourth and two at Atlanta's three-yard line. Linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. was unblocked coming from the left side and dropped running back Adrian Peterson for a one-yard gain, short of the first down.
That turned the ball over to the Falcons at the two-yard line. On third and eight at the four, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hit wide receiver Calvin Ridley for 27 yards and a first down out to the 31. That kept the possession going, and Ryan finished off the possession with a four-yard TD pass to Ridley, who was wide open in the middle of the end zone.
It was a big exchange, and the Falcons were on the winning end of it – stopping the Lions from scoring, then making a big play that led to a touchdown.
View photos from Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons Week 7 game in Atlanta, GA, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020.
Question: Where does this game rank on the all-time list of improbable finishes?
Answer: All that happened has happened before, but not all of it in one game. Among them: The Falcons giving the Lions a chance to win by scoring a touchdown when they shouldn't have; the Lions driving 75 yards to score the touchdown; and Prater being forced to make a 48-yard extra point to win the game because of a penalty.
One of a kind, from my perspective.