The Falcons secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 31-18 victory on the road against the Detroit Lions. The Falcons record now stands at 13-2 and they will have home-field throughout the playoffs. The Falcons built an early lead against the Lions, and while the Lions made things interesting in the third quarter, the Falcons were able to pull away for the win.
Matt Ryan got off to a strong start, completing his first 12 passes of the night. He finished the game 25 of 32 for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns. Those scores tie him with Steve Bartkowski for the franchise record of 31 touchdown passes in a season, and also set a new career high for Ryan. On the ground, Michael Turner led rushers with 41 yards on 13 carries. Roddy White had a big game, catching 8 passes for 153 yards and 2 of Ryan’s touchdown passes. Julio Jones also had a good game with 7 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Michael Palmer caught Ryan’s other touchdown pass on his lone reception for a single yard. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try of 20 yards. Matt Bosher punted four times for an average of 41.8 yards with 2 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. Jacquizz Rodgers returned a pair of kickoffs for an average of 24.5 yards, while Jason Snelling had a return of 9 yards. Dominique Franks had one punt return for 9 yards as well. For much of the night, the Falcons offense looked poised and efficient. They were able to convert 6 of 11 third down attempts, and also were able to get touchdowns on 2 of their 3 redzone trips.’
Defensively, the Falcons gave up a bunch of yards to the Lions who were playing from behind for most of the evening. They gave up 522 total yards to the Lions, including 443 in the air. But they also inhibited them on third downs, only allowing 5 of 14 attempts to be converted into first downs. They also forced three Lions turnovers. The team had little answer for league-leading receiver Calvin Johnson who caught 11 passes for 225 yards. Johnson was able to pass Jerry Rice on the evening, setting the new single season record for receiving yards in a season with 1892 yards. He also tied Rice for the fourth most receiving yards by an individual against the Falcons all-time. Dunta Robinson led the team with 10 tackles, as he and Samuel did their best to little avail to contain Johnson. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Thomas DeCoud (6 tackles); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Chris Hope (7 tackles); Peria Jerry (2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Robert McClain (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); Corey Peters (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Asante Samuel (5 tackles, 1 interception); and Sean Weatherspoon (9 tackles) all had noteworthy games.