|Date of game: 10/26/2014
Recap: Atlanta vs. Detroit
London, England (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Prater booted his second chance through the uprights as time expired and the Detroit Lions grabbed a 22-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons to cap an incredible comeback at Wembley Stadium in London.
A one-sided first half saw the Lions enter the break trailing by 21 points, but they scored a pair of touchdowns and field goals in the second half, with a failed two-point attempt leaving the team trailing by two.
Getting the ball back with 1:38 to play, Matthew Stafford hit Golden Tate for 32 yards on the first snap. A 20-yard one-handed catch from Theo Riddick and 10-yard grab by Jeremy Ross got the ball down to the Atlanta 31.
Prater eventually lined up for a 43-yard try with just four seconds left and missed it to the right, but a delay of game call on Detroit moved the ball back five yards and gave him one more chance.
The second time, he hit the 48-yarder just inside the left upright as the much-maligned field goal unit gave the Lions a victory.
"Matt's pretty cool under pressure," said Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell.
Prater is Detroit's third kicker on the season as the team had let go of Nate Freese after he went 3-for-7, then Alex Henery after he went just 1-for-5, including an 0-for-3 effort in a 17-14 home loss to Buffalo in Week 5.
Stafford went 24-for-47 for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Tate finished with seven catches for 151 yards and a score for the Lions (6-2), who have won three straight.
"We just keep finding ways to win these games," said Tate.
Matt Ryan was 20-for-27 for 228 yards with two scores and an interception for the Falcons (2-6), losers of five in a row.
It tied the largest blown lead in Falcons history, matching a Nov. 23, 2003, game against Tennessee.
"I'm very disappointed in the way we played in the second half," said Falcons coach Mike Smith. "You can't make the mistakes we made in the second half against a good football team because when you do they're going to come back and haunt you."
The Lions began the second half with the ball and converted three third downs, with the biggest of them a 28-yard catch by Tate. The team eventually had a 1st-and-goal at the 9, but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Prater to make it a 21-3 game.
After a three-and-out, Detroit got the ball back, but found themselves in a deep hole as a holding penalty and blindside hit flag pushed them back to a 2nd-and-35. Stafford, though, was able to go deep on third down for a wide open Tate, who caught the ball along the right sideline and took it in for a 59-yard score to make it a 21-10 game with 4:38 to play in the third.
That touchdown was Stafford's 119th in his career, passing Bobby Layne for first place in franchise history.
On Atlanta's ensuing drive, Ryan was under pressure and threw an ill-advised pass to his right that was picked off by Cassius Vaughn, who took the ball 45 yards down to the Atlanta 7, being kept from scoring on a tackle by Julio Jones.
The Atlanta defense held firm, though, and a 20-yard field goal from Prater made it a 21-13 game less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Following another brief possession from Atlanta, the Lions went on another scoring drive to make it a one-score game. On 2nd-and-goal at the Atlanta 5, Stafford rolled out to his right and hit Riddick in the flat and he went in to make it a two-point game.
The two-point conversion attempt failed, though, as Stafford's pass to Tate fell incomplete with 3:56 to play.
Atlanta was able to convert a couple of first downs and had forced the Lions to burn out all their timeouts. After the two-minute warning, Steven Jackson was stopped on a run on second down, but a penalty call to Atlanta stopped the clock. Ryan then went to his left for a quick pass to Jones, but the normally sure-handed receiver dropped the easy catch and Atlanta had to punt the ball back to Detroit.
Atlanta started the game with the ball and swiftly moved down the field, converting a 3rd-and-8 on a 24-yard catch from Roddy White, who had a 12-yard grab a few plays later. On 2nd-and-goal at the 7, Ryan tossed a short pass out to his right for Devonta Freeman, who made a one-handed grab and raced into the end zone for his first career touchdown.
A 20-yard punt return from Devin Hester following Detroit's first touch gave the Falcons the ball near midfield to begin their second touch. After a 16- yard catch from Harry Douglas on 3rd-and-8, a pass interference call gave the Falcons a 1st-and-goal at the 1. The next snap saw Ryan use play-action before softly tossing the ball to the back of the end zone where a wide open Bear Pascoe came down with his first catch and score of the season for a 14-0 lead with 2:53 left in the first.
In the second quarter, the Falcons added to their lead on a 1-yard touchdown run from Jackson to make it a 21-0 game. They caught a break earlier in the drive, as an interception return for a touchdown by Detroit was called back due to a penalty.
Getting the ball back with 3:45 to play, the Lions drove down the field and got the ball to the Atlanta 35, their furthest penetration of the game. Stafford, though, was picked off by Robert Alford and Atlanta was able to end the half with a 21-point lead.Game Notes
Detroit has off next week and will host Miami on Nov. 9 ... Atlanta also has
off next week before a road match in Tampa Bay ... The Dallas Cowboys and
Jacksonville Jaguars will play in London in Week 10 ... Detroit defensive
tackle Nick Fairley left the game in the second quarter with a right knee
injury ... Atlanta had won the previous three meetings with Detroit, but the
Lions lead the series, 24-12 ... Jackson finished the game with 60 yards on 18
carries ... Riddick had 74 yards on eight receptions.