With a little over a minute to go in Sunday’s game between the Falcons and Lions, Atlanta running back Todd Gurley made an unwise decision. He reached the end zone for a touchdown.
Yes, that sounds odd, but the situation called for Gurley to hit the brakes. The Falcons trailed by only two points, so they could have kept the clock running and kicked a short field goal as time expired to guarantee a win.
Instead, Gurley failed to stop his momentum and scored, leading to a celebration — by Lions defenders.
Detroit then answered with a game-winning drive capped off by a touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to T.J. Hockenson. Stafford later admitted that the Lions wanted Gurley to score because they would have had no chance to win otherwise. If someone had just reminded Gurley not to.
Wait, what’s that? Someone did tell Gurley to go down? Oh, that’s not good.
A video clip from NFL Films shows Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan repeatedly emphasizing the importance of not crossing the goal line.
“Hey, don’t score,” Ryan said to Gurley, who clearly understood the instructions. “Don’t score. Don’t score. Get the first. Get down.”
Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris took the blame for the play call, saying he made a mistake by “putting [Gurley] in that spot.” Perhaps Ryan could have taken a knee instead of handing off, but Gurley knew the plan. Plus, he has done the right thing before in these types of late-game scenarios.
Sometimes touchdowns can be bad. Atlanta learned this lesson the hard way. (The Falcons will probably lose like this again later in the season.)