Atlanta Falcons 31, Detroit Lions 18 (box score)
The Detroit Lions had one last chance to change public sentiment of their 2012 season in front of a national audience on Saturday night but failed to show anything outside of the familiar trends that have led them to a 4-11 record.
The Atlanta Falcons raced out to a 21-3 lead behind a strong start from quarterback Matt Ryan. He found Roddy White for a 44 yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-1 play that seemed to signal that we were in for more of the same from the Detroit Lions. Ryan added another touchdown pass to White and finished the half by finding Julio Jones for a toe-tapping score.
It wasn’t that the Lions couldn’t move the ball. Mikel Leshoure fumbled the ball inside Falcons territory, and the Lions ended two other drives with field goals under 40 yards rather than cashing in for touchdowns.
In typical Lions fashion, they tried to make a game of it in the second half. Leshoure plunged in from one yard out to bring the Lions within 21-13. The defense did their job to hold the Falcons and the Lions offense was on the move again only to have the drive stall at the three yard line. Rather than going for it on fourth down, the Lions opted to kick the field goal and rely on their defense. That play ultimate led to their demise as the Falcons marched down the field and ended their drive with the crucial touchdown the Lions couldn’t seem to get.
The game may not have been in doubt as many fans started to make for the exits, but Calvin Johnson‘s big game had him within striking distance of Jerry Rice‘s single season receiving record of 1,848 yards. Needing 182 yards coming into the game, Johnson caught 11 balls for 225 yards and now stands as the NFL record holder for receiving yards in a season.
The Lions close out their disappointing 2012 season with a home game against the Chicago Bears on December 30. All that remains to be determined is just where Calvin Johnson’s final record-breaking receiving yards total will sit as he seeks to become the first to record 2,000 receiving yards in a season.