Detroit Lions Win Wild Defensive Battle, Defeat Atlanta Falcons, 23-22

John Maakaron

The Detroit Lions were attempting to secure back-to-back victories for the first time this season. 

Facing an Atlanta Falcons team that came into Sunday's contest with only one victory, Detroit capitalized on a major error by Falcons running back Todd Gurley, and shocked the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 23-22.

Detroit opened the scoring on its second offensive possession, with the offense benefitting from a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty called against the Falcons. 

D'Andre Swift rushed it in from three yards out to give Detroit the early 7-0 lead, becoming the third player in team history with four rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown through his first six games.

Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A Todd Gurley rushing touchdown tied the score at seven early in the second quarter, as Atlanta capitalized on penalties committed by Jayron Kearse and Jeff Okudah to cap off a 13-play, 89-yard drive. 

Midway through the second quarter, Detroit made a decision that will be heavily debated and which was a game-changer in terms of momentum. 

Detroit's offense decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the three-yard line. On the play, an up-the-middle run from Adrian Peterson was easily thwarted by Atlanta's defense. 

The Falcons then rather predictably drove it down the field, and took a 14-7 lead on a 14-play, 98-yard drive, which was capped off by a three-yard Calvin Ridley touchdown reception. 

The Lions answered when Matt Prater successfully made his first 50-yard field goal of the season, making it a 14-10 ballgame heading into halftime.

The only scoring in the third quarter came when Matt Prater made a field goal from 51 yards out that cut Atlanta's lead to one, 14-13.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Matthew Stafford correctly gestured to have the coaching staff challenge that the Atlanta defense had 12 men on the field. It led to Stafford and the offense staying on the field.

Prater followed it up by missing a 46-yard field goal attempt. 

Detroit's defense then forced a turnover when Trey Flowers recovered a fumble caused by a strip sack from Romeo Okwara, deep in Atlanta territory. 

A successful 49-yard field goal gave Detroit the 16-14 lead.

The Falcons proceeded to make the Lions pay for settling for a field goal after the turnover.

On Atlanta's subsequent drive, it punched it in for six via a 10-yard Gurley scamper with 1:04 to play. The Falcons executed on a two-point conversion try after the score, making it a 22-16 game. 

As a result of Gurley scoring with over 1:00 left on the clock, it gave Stafford and the Lions' offense one last chance. 

And the offense capitalized when Stafford found tight end T.J. Hockenson in the end zone as time expired.

Detroit's win evened its season record at 3-3, and next week, a tough matchup with the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field awaits.

More from SI All Lions:

Report: D'Andre Swift to Have 'Expanded Role' against Falcons

Week 7 Inactives: Bo Scarbrough Inactive, Mike Ford Active

Predictions: Lions-Falcons

Pros and Cons of Trading for Jets Defensive End Quinnen Williams

Why Lions' Secondary Must Play Zone Defense

Get the latest Detroit Lions news by joining our community. Click "Follow" at the top right of our SI All Lions page. Mobile users click the notification bell. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @DetroitPodcast. 

Register today for free or log in to access this premium article.