Lions 17, Falcons 10
The Detroit Lions have learned to win on the road.
Michael Vick is still trying to get a handle on the West Coast offense. After going three years without a road victory, the Lions made it two in a row Sunday with a 17-10 victory over Vick and the previously unbeaten Atlanta Falcons.
Detroit (3-1) harassed Vick into three turnovers, including a fumble in the final minute that sealed the victory.
"This is a whole different team," cornerback Fernando Bryant said. "We don't care what happened in the past."
Joey Harrington threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Az-Zahir Hakim on fourth and five, and Artose Pinner scored on a one-yard dive with 1 minute 57 seconds left in the first half, the Lions' first rushing touchdown this season.
Detroit set an NFL record by losing 24 straight road games over the previous three years, but opened the season with a 20-17 victory in Chicago.
Now, it's getting to be a habit.
"I love the resiliency of this team," Coach Steve Mariucci said.
The Falcons (4-1) were denied the first 5-0 start in franchise history, along with Jim Mora taking the first loss of his head coaching career. The only other time Atlanta began 4-0 was 1986, though the team did not make the playoffs that year.
"We'll handle this like we handled the wins," Mora said. "You're going to have some adversity in the NFL."
Just ask Vick. Once again, he looked uncomfortable in the new West Coast offense. He fumbled three times, losing two of them, and also threw an interception that led to Detroit's go-ahead touchdown.
"I was caught up looking for receivers and got careless with the ball," Vick said. "The bottom line is I should have had the ball tucked away."
Late in the first half, he threw an interception that linebacker Alex Lewis returned 33 yards to the Atlanta 2.
Even Detroit's running game could handle it from there. Pinner, in his first career start, was stuffed twice before plunging into the end zone for a 14-7 lead.
The Falcons had not been behind all season, and they didn't react well to the situation.
Early in the third quarter, with the Falcons at the Detroit 21, James Hall knocked the ball loose and Cory Redding fell on it for the Lions.
The Falcons had one more chance to force overtime, driving again to the Detroit 21 in the final minute. Vick completed three passes, including a 24-yarder to Alge Crumpler, but the Lions turned up the heat again.
"Everybody's watching," Vick said. "The pressure is on. That's when I feel I'm at my best. I handled it fairly well until the end."