ReFo: Lions @ Falcons, Week 8
Ben Stockwell highlights key performers in Sunday's early game from London, a one-point Detroit win over Atlanta.
ReFo: Lions @ Falcons, Week 8
The optimism of that Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints must seem like a dwindling speck in the rear view mirror at this point for the Atlanta Falcons. Slipping to their fifth straight loss they came up with inexplicable play after inexplicable play conspiring to blow a three-touchdown lead over the Detroit Lions in the NFL’s latest transatlantic foray.
Courtesy of a second straight one-point win (it matters not by how much) the Lions ensure that they will at the very least keep pace with the Packers atop the NFC North in what is developing into a two-horse race. The Lions were not at their best but they took full advantage of whatever help the Falcons were willing to give them during the second half.
Detroit Lions – Performances of Note
Golden Tate, WR: +0.5 Receiving
Breakdown: Well used to performing without a dominant wideout opposite him in Seattle, Tate filled the void left by Calvin Johnson in a productive second half display. With only 23 yards at the half, Tate worked himself open and capitalized on the Falcons’ leaving him open to rack up 151 yards through the air, fueling the Lions’ comeback.
Signature Play: Got the Lions’ game-winning drive off to a fast start (Q4, 1:38) with a 32-yard gain working in between the linebackers and safeties, evading a hit from Dwight Lowery to gain some sneaky yards after the catch to extend the play.
Ndamukong Suh, DT: +3.9
Breakdown: His biggest play of the game was wiped from the box score due to a penalty in the secondary, but Suh put in a strong showing for a depleted Lions defensive line today. Perhaps not his most jaw-dropping performance by the stats or the grade, Suh was seemingly only controlled when the Falcons had two blockers on him, coming up with two stops and drawing a holding penalty inside the final two minutes in run defense.
Signature Play: The sack he lost came with 3:36 left in the third, defeating Jon Asamoah and taking down Matt Ryan almost before Rashean Mathis had the chance to commit his illegal contact on Julio Jones’ double move outside.
Joique Bell, RB: +2.4 & Theo Riddick, RB: +1.8
Breakdown: Carrying the load in Reggie Bush’s absence, Bell and Riddick proved the strength in depth in the Detroit backfield both on the ground and through the air. Bell forced four missed tackles on the ground but it was as threats out of the backfield exploiting mismatches on the Atlanta linebackers where these two shone.
Signature Play: Riddick delivered the signature play on the game-winning drive (Q4 1:07), shaking Paul Worrilow to get open inside before bringing in a one-handed grab on a throw in front for a 20-yard gain.
Atlanta Falcons – Performances of Note
Matt Ryan, QB: +0.3
Breakdown: A game of two halves for Ryan; on point and on target in the first half the wheels fell off with the rest of his team in the second half. Victim of a pair of strip sacks and throwing a truly baffling interception at the end of the third, Ryan was far from blameless in allowing the Lions to climb back into the game even if his mistakes weren’t ultimately decisive in the defeat.
Signature Stat: On passes aimed 10 or more yards downfield, Ryan went 6-of-8 for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Paul Worrilow, LB: -6.6
Breakdown: Racking up the tackles just as he did last season but the Lions were able to get a lot of joy out of passes around Worrilow and he was all too easily controlled in run defense as well. A forced fumble at the start of the second quarter mark was his high-water mark followed up by a trio of missed tackles and 77 yards surrendered in primary coverage.
Signature Stat: Among the league’s most targeted linebackers (42 targets on 250 coverage snaps) Worrilow is surrendering 1.62 yards per coverage snap; third-worst in the league among inside linebackers.
Osi Umenyiora, DE: +3.3
Breakdown: A solid display by Umenyiora but at the same time symptomatic of the Falcons’ defensive displays, just not good enough. Umenyiora had the better of Riley Reiff (1 Ht, 4 Hu) for much of the game but couldn’t capitalize with a decisive play at any point.
Signature Play: The closest he came was forcing a field goal attempt at 8:04 in the third by hitting Stafford’s arm as he threw to force an incompletion.
PFF Game Ball
For their work out of the backfield all game long, Theo Riddick and Joique Bell take this week’s PFF Game Ball back home across the Atlantic.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben
Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.