Over the next week, we are going to go through the 10 plays that shaped the 2014 season for the Detroit Lions.
The play: Golden Tate broke free from zone coverage in London and scored a 59-yard touchdown pass with 4:48 left in the third quarter, Detroit's first touchdown of the game.
The situation: The Lions' offense had been atrocious in the first half against Atlanta at Wembley Stadium in London. Detroit trailed 21-0 and couldn't pull together any momentum at all. Then, quarterback Matthew Stafford did what he has done so often in his career. In a rare display of good protection from Detroit's offensive line, Stafford had time to wait for Tate to sprint down the field. He created more time by moving up in the pocket and then threw a line drive to a wide open Tate for the touchdown to cut the Falcons' lead to 21-10 in a 22-21 win.
The reason it mattered: In the context of the game, it was the first time Detroit's offense showed signs of competency and progress against Atlanta and really started igniting the double-digit comeback, one that would be the Lions' second in two weeks. In the context of the season, the second half of the Atlanta game was a major confirmation point for the Lions. Multiple players said throughout the season the way Jim Caldwell handled halftime -- calm, focused and honest -- spurred the comeback and eventually led the Lions to a playoff berth. In the context of Stafford, the pass was the 119th touchdown of his career, breaking Bobby Layne's franchise record that stood for more than 50 years.
What Stafford said about the play: "I'm fired up we got to break it and win the game. It would have been disappointing not to. That play, third-and-extra long, our team needed a spark. Coach calls an aggressive down-the-field shot and I told everybody to keep running. I said no matter what, just keep running. Our offensive line did a great job. We had protection with a bunch of help on both tackles and had a chance to step up in the pocket and saw the safety kind of flat-food for a half-second and I just let one go. Tried to get Golden a chance. He ran underneath it, scored, dropped the ball and [I] ran and got it."