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Todd Gurley Didn’t Fall Down This Time, And It Cost The Falcons A Win

Todd Gurley II #21 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball after a reception against the Detroit Lions during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 25, 2020
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Two years ago, almost to the day, Todd Gurley stopped himself from scoring at the end of a game, which helped the Los Angeles Rams beat the Green Bay Packers, 29–27. It’s the hypothetical that never gets old: If you’re in a position to win the game, either by kicking a field goal or killing the clock, do you stop yourself from scoring a touchdown early? Unfortunately for Gurley, he didn’t follow his own precedent on Sunday, as his late touchdown for the Atlanta Falcons allowed the Detroit Lions one last chance to win the game.

As he breaks through a very soft tackle by Lions safety Will Harris, Gurley realizes what he’s about to do and tries to fall to the ground before breaking the plane of the goalline, but stops himself too late and scores. That, and the successful two-point conversion, gave Atlanta a 22–16 lead with just over a minute for Matthew Stafford and the Lions to drive for the game-winner. And drive they did.

After moving the ball to the 40 with 20 seconds left, Stafford hit Kenny Golladay on the 11-yard line with nine seconds left. Chaos ensued, as both teams rushed to the line of scrimmage, with one Falcons player trucking through a Lions player on the way there, drawing a flag for what one supposes would have been offsides. No matter, though, because the referees reviewed the catch. Golladay’s catch stood as called on the field, which gave the Lions vital few seconds to compose themselves and spike the ball with three seconds left on the clock. On the ensuing play, Stafford found TJ Hockenson in the end zone after a nifty scramble out of the pocket.

Game over, right? Not quite! The Lions drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the celebration, pushing Matt Prater’s extra point try to the 30-yard line. That would be the last bit of hilarious disaster that this game would have, though, as Prater nailed the extra point, giving the Lions the 23–22 victory, and giving Gurley a touchdown he would like to forget. At least his fantasy football owners will be happy.