What a finish. When this game was announced at the end of last season it was the one that fans and pundits pointed to as a must watch; but nobody would have been expecting what was seen at the national stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After the last few matches of the International Series ended in one-sided blowouts that led to fans leaving as early as the third quarter, this one had nail-biting drama until the very final second.
It had started so well for the Falcons, who raced into a 21-0 half-time lead thanks to scoring plays on three of their first four drives. Quarterback Matt Ryan was immaculate, connecting on scores to Devonta Freeman and Bear Pascoe, while running back Steven Jackson scored a touchdown of his own and became only the 19th player in NFL history to surpass 11,000 rushing yards.
Detroit's sole highlight of the first half, a 100+ yard pick-six by Rashean Mathis that would've made the score 14-7 was chalked off for a penalty - Atlanta scoring two plays later.
The form book hadn't just been ripped up, it had been shredded, mashed, pulped and taken to a dump.
Matt Stafford, one of the best young throwers in the NFL, may have been missing star receiver Calvin Johnson, top running back Reggie Bush and three tight ends, but he was as much to blame for his team's ills as the dropped passes of his second-string receiving corps.
At half-time fans inside Wembley were again worrying about another lopsided affair and may have been thinking about an early exit.
But it all changed after the break. The Lions could only manage a field goal on their first drive after half-time but the momentum had turned. The Lions defence finally started to show why they had the best unit in the NFL prior to this game. Where Ryan had ample time and space in the first-half he was now under immense pressure, while Jackson failed to find top gear.
The Lions continued to cut into Atlanta's lead, Golden Tate scoring on a 59-yard Stafford bomb to whittle it down to eight. Theo Riddick then added another score, cutting the lead to two, but a botched two-point conversion with just four minutes left gave Atlanta the chance to see out the victory. They only needed to run clock to have the win.
They managed a first down and got to midfield but were stopped by the Detroit defence; the Lions had a minute and 46 seconds, but no timeouts to get down the field.
Stafford, who had come to life in the second-half made two excellent throws during the drive, putting his team well into kicker Matt Prater's range. With the crowd noise at fever pitch and four seconds on the clock Prater had the chance to win it.
But the drama wasn't finished quite yet.
Prater kicked but hooked his shot wide right, sending the largely pro-Falcon crowd into a frenzy - but among the loud cheers came a referee's whistle, and confusion reigned.
The call: delay of game against the Lions. Detroit had been penalised (moving the ball back 10 yards) but because the whistle had blown before the miss, the Detroit kicker would get another chance at the game-winner.
Further out but with a chance at redemption he made no mistake, handing the Lions their second successive one-point win and sending the fans home after the most dramatic game seen at Wembley.Reuse content