London hosted its tenth International Series game on Sunday and it was arguably the best game yet.
It was certainly the best finish we’ve seen at Wembley. Matt Prater kicked a 48yd field goal as time expired to clinch the game for the Detroit Lions as they came from 21-0 down to beat the Atlanta Falcons 22-21.
He missed his initial attempt, but the play was repeated because of a false start. There were scenes of celebrations from the road team as they sealed their victory right at the gun.
It was a game of two halves. Atlanta flew out of the blocks, scoring on each of their first two drives. Matt Ryan was sublime in the first two quarters, completing 14 of his first 17 passes for 160yds and those 2 TDs.
Steven Jackson was the main threat for the Falcons, rushing for 60yds off 18 carries, scoring 1 TD.
Matt Stafford struggled in the first half and as the Lions went in at half time they looked odds on to go into their bye week 5&3.
The second half was all Detroit, though, with Stafford leading them through five straight scoring drives. One of the highlights came during the 3rd quarter as he threw a bomb to Golden Tate for a 59yd scoring strike. Tate was the main man for the Lions in the absence of Calvin Johnson. The receiver had seven catches on a season-high 15 targets for 151yds and a touchdown.
Credit must also be given to Detroit’s defense. Like their offense, they struggled in the first half but they stood strong in the second to deny Atlanta at crucial stages. Falcons fans will be concerned at their side’s capitulation.
The last losing team to leave London fired their coach almost as soon as he touched down back in the States. The Falcons are now 2 & 6. Mike Smith won’t be sitting comfortably on his flight home.