Here are the grades from Atlanta's 23-22 home loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday afternoon:
Todd Gurley II rushed for 63 of the team's 66 total rush yards. That will not cut it. Gurley did convert a few third-down runs and he scored twice, but he should've held up instead of scoring the second touchdown. Gurley admitted his error, but it doesn't absolve him of the criticism. He's been in the league too long to make that mistake.
Matt Ryan was 31-of-42 for 338 yards with one touchdown, a 2-point pass and no interceptions, with great pass distribution. Four Falcons had more than 50 yards receiving against Detroit and wide receiver Russell Gage Jr. battled back after an early knee injury to play well. The Falcons were 7 of 14 on third downs and 1 of 2 on fourth downs, converting on several pass plays.
Despite those numbers, the Falcons still didn't make enough impactful pass plays. Atlanta could've had a touchdown if Ryan connected on the fourth-and-five pass and the offensive line looked bad on the strip sack of Ryan.
The Falcons were solid against the run, even though they allowed a rushing touchdown for the first time in five weeks. Dante Fowler Jr's big hit stopped running back Adrian Peterson in his tracks on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the second quarter. Atlanta only allowed 66 rushing yards, but the defense didn't force any turnovers.
Detroit wide receiver Kenny Golladay had six receptions for 114 yards and Matthew Stafford (340 pass yards) became the sixth quarterback in seven weeks to pass for 300+ yards against the Falcons. Atlanta safety Keanu Neal did lead the team with 11 total tackles and one of their two sacks, but that was the only good news. The defense didn't cause any turnovers, which would've helped the Falcons' offense in a close game.
The Falcons gave up a five-play, 48-yard drive to Detroit for a field goal before halftime and the most egregious of all was the eight-play, 75-yard drive (with no timeouts) in 64 seconds which led to Stafford's TD pass to T.J. Hockenson at the buzzer to tie the game at 22. The sad thing is on the final Detroit drive, the Atlanta defenders kept the Lions receivers in the field of play...and the Falcons still lost.
Interim head coach Raheem Morris said he still leans on former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Morris turned into Quinn when it came to game decisions Sunday. The fourth-and-five pass was not a good call; a field goal there was the better play. The bad challenge on Golladay's sideline catch cost the Falcons a second-half timeout, but the staff was reprieved when kicker Matt Prater missed a field goal.
Gurley's second touchdown gaffe was more on him than the coaching staff, but they still have to share some criticism.
The Falcons went back to playing low IQ football Sunday and it cost them a game which they had a 98 percent chance of winning with 1:04 remaining. Gurley has to take two steps, then fall on his ill-fated touchdown run and Stafford and his receivers feasted on the beleaguered Falcons pass defense.
You wonder if the Falcons are the team that beat Minnesota last week or if they really are the team that finds unbelievable ways to lose games.