The Falcons did their patented maybe-gonna-blow-it deal at home against the Lions. Thankfully, they were able to hold on and mathematically remain alive in the playoff hunt.
Here’s what stood out from the win.
Kyle Pitts turns in a gem
Kyle Pitts is special. Throughout the season we’ve seen his ability to click into another gear when the football is in his hands — especially on crossing routes over the middle where he turns a five-yard gain into 20.
He’s been dubbed The Unicorn, which I feel is a bit too much of a lofty nickname to place upon a rookie enjoying his first NFL seasons and the growing pains that come along with it. But with that, it’s fair to say this man is definitely different.
He showed that on Sunday in his six-catch, 102-yard receiving performance, the highlight of which came on a 35-yard reception down the sideline in the third quarter. Pitts was well-covered by cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, and his last-second burst allowed him to create enough separation to secure the catch.
Kyle Pitts now sits just 128 receiving yards shy of breaking Mike Ditka’s all-time record for most receiving yards by a rookie tight end in NFL history.
Yeah — he’s different.
Foye Oluokun seals the win
Nothing is done and dusted with the Falcons until the clock reads 0:00, and they nearly let this game get away in Falcony fashion.
After a fumble by wide receiver Russell Gage, the Lions were within striking distance of snatching a win. That was not to be, courtesy of linebacker Foyesade Oluokun.
Foye found himself at the right place at the right time to make the play to thwart disaster, snaring quarterback Tim Boyle’s ill-conceived pass and sliding to secure the win.
The Falcons have some big decisions contractual decisions to make this offseason, but Foye Oluokun has improved every year since drafted — and he’s established himself as one of the top young linebackers in the league.
Those plays get you paid.
Russell Gage creates chaos
Wide receiver Russell Gage is an enigma. This man will virtually levitate to snag a ball in traffic to move the chains, but will drop an easy ball that hits him right in the chest. He leads the team in dropped passes with five, one of which came in the third quarter.
That drop proved inconsequential as the Falcons would score courtesy of a Matt Ryan to Hayden Hurst connection on the drive. His fourth-quarter fumble on a screen pass nearly cost Atlanta the game, however.
Gage is a very solid possession receiver, and he comes up with big catches seemingly out of nowhere. He has to clean up the drops and secure the football.