The Lions snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for once and beat the Falcons 23-22. Atlanta made a few more mistakes than Detroit did on the afternoon in crunch time that cemented their status as the league’s biggest chokers according to a new piece.
After the action in Week 7, The Ringer broke down the winners and losers of the week and found that a winner was actually this particular game. Within, writer Rodger Sherman proclaimed that the Falcons in the loss became the newest kings of the choke with the defeat.
“Even when the Falcons have the talent and the game plan, failure finds a way. They’re the only team in the NFL that can score touchdowns in a way that helps them lose. We can be mad at Gurley for scoring—but let’s be honest. The alternative was burning the clock and kicking a field goal with the clock expiring. And these are the Falcons. After giving this win to the Lions, they’ve officially cemented themselves as the NFL’s Kings of Choking. If Gurley had dove at the 1 and the Falcons attempted a game-winning 18-yard field goal, the kick would’ve drilled the goalpost with a 700-decibel doink.”
The Lions have long been considered the gold standard in terms of the NFL choke, but perhaps that’s finally changing. Obviously, they will have to find a way to win more consistently than they lose and avoid the close game meltdowns.
For one week, though, it was good to see the Lions not be the face of choking in the NFL. Whether or not that remains the case moving forward is still anyone’s guess.
Significance of Detroit’s Win Over Atlanta
The victory by the Lions was stunning only because of how it played out. For once, it wasn’t the Lions who were making all the mistakes at the end of a game.
Detroit was facing a 22-16 deficit aided greatly by their own errors in judgement, execution and play calling. But the Falcons had given the Lions some life by virtue of a touchdown that should have never happened. Then, almost surgically, the Lions went down the field and got the ball in position for one more shot with 2 seconds.
More often than not, there’s a penalty, or a rules gaffe, or some type of misfortune that befalls the team in such a circumstance. Instead, the Lions calmly tied the game via a touchdown from T.J. Hockenson. Then, they were forced to kick what might have been the longest extra point in NFL history. No problem, as Matt Prater calmly nailed the kick and sparked off the celebration after the 23-22 win.
Decades of Lions fans know only close game pain and know only mistakes like the Falcons have made in the same situation, so it was certainly nice to see the Lions pull out a crazy game that it felt as if they were going to lose. It took a mental mistake by the Falcons, of course, but credit the Lions for making them pay in the end on the scoreboard. Far too often, Detroit hasn’t made worse teams pay for their mistakes.
Lions Choking History
For the better part of 40 years or more, the Lions have made painful losses a habit. The nature of the frustration is too numerous to count, but Detroit lost a game exactly like this to Atlanta in 2017. They also lost similarly to Green Bay in 2019, so for them to overcome these demons finally was very significant.
The Lions will have to go another 10 years without having a similar loss to proclaim themselves free of this plague while the Falcons blow more games through the years. Finally, though, it’s nice for Detroit to have the choking shoe on another foot.