Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions’ offense were going to have a long plane ride home Sunday night from London, after missing key scoring opportunities in the red zone.
The Lions, who faced a disheartening deficit of 21-0, forged a comeback, showing resiliency and determination. Detroit moved to within 11, eventually receiving an interception from cornerback Cassius Vaughn, who intercepted Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan, for a 45-yard return.
This was the boost of adrenaline Detroit grinned upon.
Three plays later, Stafford and Golden Tate flung their arms up in confusion, Stafford missing Tate for a touchdown on a third down. Detroit would settle for a field goal, cutting the lead to 21-13. Stafford, a fourth-quarter magician of magnificent comebacks, would feel his bowls sink in disgust after that misfire.
The comeback cats wouldn’t stop there, however, as Stafford drove his men in white to score, on a 13-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. The Lions failed on the two-point conversion attempt, still trailing Atlanta by two.
The madness wouldn’t stop there; Detroit would surpass the Falcons in a thrilling, last-second victory.
The Falcons had a chance to diminish the clock, failing to do so, stopping the clock with a holding penalty, and a missed pass on third-down. Stafford and the offense would receive the ball at their own seven-yard line with a 1:38 left, and no timeouts.
The Lions drove the ball down to Atlanta’s thirty-yard line, pacing to to stop the clock and set up a game-winning field goal attempt — a terrifying moment indeed, considering consistency has been a lacking element in the kicking unit.
Matt Prater emerged onto the scene, readied for the snap and hold — which arrived late — rushed to kick the game winner, but missed it due to the delayed snap. The hearts of fans and Lions players sank alike — until the flag of all flags appeared: a delay of game on the Lions, granting them a controversial opportunity, sealing the deal.
Prater knocked a 48-yard field goal, the clock expired, and Lions players poured onto the field in celebration.
Detroit has had some unbelievable victories these past two weeks; heart and determination are clearly in their game plans. The team never stuttered when falling behind, holding composure to battle through their odds. Surely, Lady Luck granted them her gracious touch, but Detroit capitalized — as good teams should.
The Lions, now 6-2 and leading the NFC North Division, head towards a needed BYE week to regroup, get healthy, and continue their roll. It’s been a magical season so far.
Hopefully it continues.