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The Falcons started on the front foot when quarterback Matt Ryan completed a short pass out wide to Devonta Freeman, with the rookie subsequently slipping through a gap and into the corner of the endzone for his first ever NFL touchdown.
Better was to come for the Falcons when a defensive penalty call against rookie safety Jerome Couplin brought the offense to the one-yard line.
Ryan went on to pick out tight-end Bear Pascoe, who scored a second touchdown for the Falcons with his first ever catch for the team.
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Things would get worse for the Lions as Rashean Mathis intercepted a Ryan pass in the endzone and returned it all the way for a touchdown, but the referee called pass interference against the safety, ruling the score out.
Then, just moments later, Steven Jackson ran into the endzone from a yard out for his side's third touchdown.
The Lions proved more confident after the half-time break, with Matt Prater being called into action for the first time in the game midway through the third quarter. The placekicker easily made the 22-yard effort to get some points on the board for the NFC North leaders.
Detroit were then able to get more points on the board with a field goal at the start of the final quarter, but this was in lieu of a potential touchdown as Atlanta shut their opposition out, retaining an eight-point lead thereafter.
With four minutes left in the game, Stafford faked a handoff to Joique Bell before passing in the opposite direction for Theo Riddick, who found the corner of the endzone to put the Lions just two points behind.
With just four seconds left, Prater was given the chance to score a field goal from 42 yards, and despite missing the initial effort, he was given a reprieve when the Falcons were penalised for timewasting.
The 30-year-old made no mistake with his second chance as he completed a remarkable turnaround for his side right at the death.