"It's great," Ryan said. "Our confidence is high and our experience -- good and bad -- has helped us. The key is to keep the focus where it's been."
In yet another loss, Johnson had a record-breaking night. He broke Jerry Rice's NFL single-season yards receiving mark of 1,848. After making the record-breaking catch in the fourth quarter, Johnson jogged over to the sideline and handed the football to his father.
"That was a very special moment," he said.
Johnson also became the only player with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games and the first with 10 receptions in four games in a row in league history. He had 11 receptions for 225 yards, giving him 1,892 this season.
"He just broke a record set by Jerry Rice, who is arguably the best player in this history of this league."
Ryan was 25 of 32 for 279 yards without a turnover.
The Falcons hope playing at home, potentially throughout the conference playoffs, helps them more than it did after the 2010 and 1980 seasons. The Falcons failed to win a game in either postseason, getting routed by Green Bay two years ago and blowing a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead to Dallas three decades ago.
Detroit (4-11) has been relegated to playing for pride this month and that hasn't been going very well.
The Lions, whose seven-game losing streak is the longest skid in the league, haven't struggled this much since the laughingstock of a franchise became the league's first to go 0-16 in 2008.
Ryan dashed Detroit's comeback hopes.
"We didn't play well in the third quarter," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "Matt made some big throws on that drive."
Stafford was clearly trying to get the ball to Johnson on the next drive and cornerback Asante Samuel figured that out, stepping in front of the receiver for an interception to set up Bryant's field goal.
Atlanta running back Michael Turner was tackled in the end zone, after Detroit turned the ball over on downs, to give the Lions two meaningless points.
Ryan went deep to White for the first score, connecting with him on a 44-yard TD strike with 5:50 left in the first quarter. Ryan threw a short pass to him early in the second quarter and the standout receiver did the rest on a 39-yard sprint down the sideline.
Ryan put his third TD pass where only Julio Jones could catch it a corner of the end zone, and he did on a 16-yard reception that put Atlanta up 21-3.
Detroit didn't give up, one game after being accused of doing just that in a 38-10 loss at Arizona.
Hanson's third field goal made it 21-16.
Stafford finished 37 of 56 for 443 yards with an interception and the Lions say he set an NFL record for the most yards passing in a game without throwing a TD pass.
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."
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.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press