Defensive end Kroy Biermann forced running Leshoure to fumble, giving the Falcons the ball at their 31 and they took advantage. Ryan’s perfectly lofted pass to White’s fingertips converted a third-and-1 in a big way, putting the Falcons ahead.
The Lions responded with another drive into Atlanta territory, but stalled and had to settle for Hanson’s 34-yard field goal in the final minute of the opening quarter to pull within four points.
Atlanta earned a double-digit lead on the ensuing drive.
Ryan threw a screen pass to his left to White, who got a great block from tight end Gonzalez, and the receiver raced untouched for a score that put the Falcons ahead 14-3.
White finished with eight receptions for 153 yards and two TDs. Jones had seven receptions for 71 yards and a score.
Ryan completed his first 12 attempts and, after his first incomplete pass, he converted a third-and-10 with an 11-yard toss to Jacquizz Rodgers. Two plays later, Ryan matched a season high with a third TD pass on the connection with Jones. Prior to the game, Ryan hadn’t started a game with more than 10 consecutive completions, according to STATS LLC. He started 10 for 10 last month against Tampa Bay.
Johnson had three receptions for 70 yards in the first quarter, breaking Herman Moore’s single-season franchise record for yards receiving.
By halftime, Johnson had 117 yards receiving. He had 100 yards receiving for an eighth straight game, breaking a record set by Charley Hennigan in 1961 and matched by Michael Irvin in 1995. It was Johnson’s 11th game with 100 yards receiving this season, tying Irvin’s NFL mark.
‘‘Calvin is one of the best players in the game and I think everybody is a big fan of his,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘He’s one of the most genuinely nice people you could meet.’’
Stafford connected with Johnson on a short crossing route and the receiver did the rest, outrunning Falcons on a 49-yard gain. Fittingly, the Lions turned the ball over on the next snap in the latest lowlight in a season full of them.
The Lions, Falcons and fans at Ford Field in Detroit honored the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School before the game. Players had memorial decals on their helmets that read ‘‘S.H.E.S.’’ in white on a black background, and Detroit’s coaches wore pins with a similar design. There was also a moment of silence before the national anthem while the names and ages of each victim were shown on the videoboards. Twenty children and six adults were killed in the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn. Adam Lanza killed his mother, shot students and staff, then killed himself.
NOTES: Stafford, in his fourth season, has 1,090 career completions to surpass Bobby Layne’s franchise record of 1,074. Stafford is seven attempts away from surpassing the NFL’s single-season mark of 691 set by Drew Bledsoe with New England in 1994. ... Backup Falcons CB Christopher Owens had a hamstring injury.
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