Sunday's contest against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons was a measuring stick game of sorts for the Detroit Lions. After 60 minutes of football, the Lions proved one thing: They can play with the best the NFC has to offer.
The Lions fell just a half yard short of an upset in their 30-26 loss.
Detroit had a first and goal at the 1-yard line with 19 seconds left, but were unable to punch it in.
After incompletions on first and second down, the Lions thought they had the go-ahead touchdown with eight seconds left on a pass from Matthew Stafford to Golden Tate, but after review, it was shown that Tate was down at the half yard line. By rule, because the Lions didn't have any timeouts left, 10 seconds were run off the clock. Game over.
It goes in the books as a loss, but the Lions showed they can play with anybody.
Detroit fell behind early, but like they've done so often, they battled back behind quarterback Matthew Stafford's right arm and interceptions by Glover Quin and Darius Slay (2).
The Lions got touchdowns from Golden Tate (via Matthew Stafford) and Glover Quin, who returned a Matt Ryan interception 37 yards in the second quarter for a touchdown. Matt Prater accounted for four field goals (35, 40, 55 and 57).
QB Comparison: Stafford finished 25-of-45 for 264 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He finished with an 80.2 passer rating. He also rushed twice for 19 yards.
Ryan completed 24 of his 35 attempts for 294 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions for a 77.6 rating.
Traveling man: Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin opted to shadow Atlanta All-Pro receiver Julio Jones with his best cornerback, Darius Slay. The Lions have done this with Slay from time to time with success.
Jones was targeted 12 times and caught seven for 91 yards and no touchdowns. His longest catch was 18 yards. Not a bad effort by Slay.
Long-range ace: Matt Prater kicked a 55-yard field goal in the second quarter and 57-yarder in the fourth quarter, which were the 10th and 11th field goals of 55-plus yards for Prater in his career. Only Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski (13) has more.
Prater also hit from 40 yards and 35 to go a perfect 4-for-4 kicking field goals on the day.
Injury report: Already without linebacker Jarrad Davis (concussion), center Travis Swanson (ankle), running back Dwayne Washington (quad) and safety Tavon Wilson (shoulder), the Lions could not afford another injury to a key player.
Starter Anthony Zettel suffered a right knee injury early in the second half, but was able to return to action. Cornerback DJ Hayden left the game in the second half with an undisclosed injury.