Jared Goff throws and runs for TDs, helping the Lions bounce back with a 20-6 win over Falcons

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes as he is pressured by Atlanta Falcons...
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes as he is pressured by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Zach Harrison (96) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)(Paul Sancya | AP)
Published: Sep. 24, 2023 at 10:13 PM EDT
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DETROIT (AP) — Jared Goff faked a handoff, dropped back and lofted a pass to a stunningly open Sam LaPorta.

Goff’s tiebreaking 45-yard touchdown pass to LaPorta early in the second quarter sent Detroit to a 20-6 victory over Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in a rebound performance for the Lions.

“We had that play written up all week,” Goff said.

Atlanta, somehow, seemed to miss LaPorta on the scouting report.

The former Iowa star, drafted No. 34 overall, was the first NFL tight end to catch five passes in each of his first two games. He surpassed that production with eight receptions for 84 yards and his first score against the Falcons.

LaPorta has 18 catches, the most by an NFL tight end through three games. The previous record was 17 receptions for Keith Jackson in 1988 for Philadelphia at the start of his three-time All-Pro career.

“He’s a stud,” Goff said. “He has a great feel for the game. Great hands, obviously, and great speed.

“The sky is the limit and hopefully I’ll play with him for a long time.”

Goff was 22 of 33 for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also had a 3-yard designed run for a score that fooled the Falcons on third down, giving Detroit a 20-3 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Lions (2-1) earned a much-needed win after following a hype-fueling victory at Kansas City with a deflating loss at home to Seattle, disappointing fired-up fans desperate for a winner.

“We let them down last week so we wanted to make sure we got one for them,” Goff said.

The Falcons (2-1) failed to protect Desmond Ridder, who was sacked seven times by a team that had only one sack in two games.

“They took us out of our rhythm early and we never got it back,” Atlanta coach Arthur Smith said.

Detroit scored first, taking advantage of favorable field position by forcing a punt with sacks on two straight snaps.

Riley Patterson’s 37-yard field goal capped a 48-yard drive that took 6:31 off the clock late in the first quarter.

Atlanta responded with Younghoe Koo’s 48-yard field goal.

On the ensuing possession, LaPorta was wide open on the go-ahead score.

Detroit’s Amon-Ra St. Brown finished with nine receptions for 102 yards and rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs ran 17 times for 80 yards, surpassing the 59 yards he had on the ground through the first two games.

Ridder was 21 of 38 for 201 yards with a fumble. He felt the Falcons hurt themselves more than Detroit did.

“There’s a lot of times in our situation where we go out there and we beat ourselves and not play to our full potential,” he said.

Rookie Bijan Robinson had 10 carries for 33 yards and four catches for 27 yards after he had 255 yards of offense in his first two games with the Falcons.

“We looked like a hungry, violent defense,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said.

FAMILY MATTERS

Detroit defensive end Aidan Hutchinson broke out a dance move after each of his two sacks, the second of which included a fumble recovery.

“I was waiting to do the Stanky Legg for about three games,” he said.

Hutchinson’s sister, Mia, sang the national anthem for the first time and drew a roar from the crowd with the dynamic rendition.

“It added some extra nerves,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll have her back because she killed it.”

INJURY REPORT

Falcons: RB Cordarrelle Patterson (thigh) was inactive after being listed as questionable. CB Jeff Okudah (foot) returned from an injury to make his Atlanta debut against the team that drafted and traded him.

Lions: OT Taylor Decker (ankle) was inactive for a second straight game and OT Matt Nelson (ankle) and OT Dan Skipper (hamstring) were hurt during the game. ... RB David Montgomery (thigh) and DB Kerby Joseph (hip) also were inactive.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in London.

Lions: On short week, play the Green Bay Packers on road Thursday night.

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