Lions come back in fourth for 23-22 win at Falcons

Detroit Lions TE T.J. Hockenson

Every second counts in the NFL and if you didn’t believe it, now you do if you watched the Lions pull out a 23-22 win at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The Lions (3-3) got the ball back with 64 seconds remaining, on their own 25-yard line with no timeouts and needing 7 points for the win.

Turns out Matthew Stafford had a comeback in his pocket and his 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson who worked hard to keep his route alive.

“They played a different coverage than we thought and it ended up being zone. There’s a guy I can’t remember what number he was, he was sitting right in the middle at the goal line,’’ Hockenson said. “I turned around and saw Staff scramble and I continued on the route, he ended up finding it.’’

Hockenson (5 catches, 59 yards) knew it was coming.

“When (Stafford) reared back I was like, ‘Here it comes, let’s do this.’ We work on that all the time,’’ Hockenson said. “It’s super cool to see it come to fruition on Sunday.’’

And, it was National Tight Ends Day. Perfect.

It was Stafford’s 30th career fourth-quarter comeback and his 36th game-winning drive. He finished 25 of 36 for 340 yards, one touchdown and a 108.6 rating.

That last drive was something. It started with an incompletion to Kenny Golladay (6 catches, 114 yards) who couldn’t stay inbounds on the catch.

Then a 13-yard pass to Hockenson who had trouble getting out of bounds to stop the clock. 

Stafford spike

Then a 22-yard pass to Danny Amendola.

Stafford spike

Then a 29-yard pass to Golladay at the Atlanta 11-yard line.

Then a challenge.

Stafford spike.

Touchdown pass to Hockenson which tied the game at 22-22.

Lions took a penalty on the touchdown, so extra-point yardage was from 48 yards.

Prater’s kick was good.

Lions win 23-22 with no time left on the clock.

And here’s the thing, Atlanta running back Todd Gurley played a big part in Detroit’s win. He ran in for a touchdown on first down from 10 yards out with 64 seconds left. Had he not gone in, the Falcons could have run more time off the clock.

Falcons coach Raheem Morris admitted afterward they were trying to get to the 1-yard line and it looked like Gurley knew that but it was too late — he was over the goal line.

The win was the second straight for the Lions and it boosted their record to 3-3. They’re at Ford Field next Sunday to host the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) who will be coming off a bye week.


Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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