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Shades of last year are setting in as the Detroit Lions lost to the Atlanta Falcons 23-16, giving the Lions their second loss in as many weeks after five wins in a row. The Falcons abused the Lions’ defense behind the sturdy running of Michael Turner as he eclipsed the century mark for the fourth time this season.
Feeding Turner the ball has brought the Falcons great success as they are 13-3 when he rushes for more than 100 yards. The dominate play by Turner opened up the passing game for quarterback Matt Ryan who threw for 200+ yards, and had a touchdown toss to wide receiver Roddy White.
The Lions’ defense did manage to slow Ryan down at times, tallying two interceptions and three sacks. That defensive also pressured Ryan to leave the game momentarily. After Ryan was flushed out the pocket, offensive lineman Will Svitek was pushed backward, causing him to step on Ryan’s ankle. The incident looked worse than it actually was, and Ryan was able to return to the game.
The Lions’ defense also held the Falcons under 30 points, which should have been a recipe for a Lions win as the Falcons were 0-4 on the season when held to under 30 points. The Lions’ struggles were not due to the defense, but more so the high-powered offense that was held in check by the Falcons defense.
Lions star receiver, Calvin Johnson, put up his big numbers as usual, pulling in five balls for 115 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the receiving core struggled mightily with 10 catches for only 68 yards. The Lions’ rushing attack also suffered with the absence of running back Jahvid Best who is out with concussion-like symptoms he got in last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
In his place, the Lions used a running back by committee system consisting of Maurice Morris, Keiland Williams, and Nate Burleson. The three backs filled in admirably for the injured Best, but were not as effective, forcing the Lions to rely on the arm of quarterback Matthew Stafford passing the ball almost 70 percent of the time.
Stafford was able to reel off 180 yards and a touchdown, but with the Falcons keying in on the pass, he only completed half of his throws. Stafford was hurt on the final drive by the Lions after Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton fell on Stafford’s leg, tweaking his ankle and knee. If Stafford has to miss any significant time, it will begin to look a lot more like last year, much to the chagrin of Lions fans everywhere.