Falcons cut Seahawks’ thrilling comeback short
Atlanta (13-3) v. Seattle (11-5)
Final Score: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28
After being shut out in the first half, the Seahawks nearly made a comeback in the second half, scoring a touchdown in the third quarter and putting up 21 points in the fourth. With 31 seconds left in the game after Marshawn Lynch plowed in for a potential game-winning touchdown, the Seahawks had a one-point lead before Matt Ryan led the Falcons on a winning drive that culminated in 42 yards on just two plays. Matt Bryant did the rest, kicking a 49-yard field goal up through the middle for a thrilling finish and a 30-28 win.
The Seahawks seemed unstoppable in the second half. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson looked like a seasoned pro in leading his team back from a 20-0 first half deficit, and he nearly did. But being held scoreless in the first half after a couple trips to the Falcons’ red-zone proved fatal. Seattle left 31 seconds too many on the clock.
Keys to the win
- The Falcons defense came up big in the first half. The best way to keep the team’s offense happy is to prevent the other team’s offense from putting points on the scoreboard, and the Falcons did just that.
- It has to hurt seeing opportunities slip away. When Seattle went for it on fourth-and-1 attempt from Atlanta’s 11-yard line, William Moore stopped fullback Michael Robinson for a Seattle turnover on downs.
- Sean Weatherspoon had a great game after forcing a fumble from Marshawn Lynch. The Falcons drove down the field and ended with a touchdown to tight end Tony Gonzalez after the Seattle turnover.
Keys to the loss
- A big part of it came down to a questionable timeout call by Seattle right before the Falcons attempted the winning field goal. Bryant missed the first field goal he kicked, but that was nullified by a Seahawks timeout called just before the kick. He connected on his second chance to win the game. However, had Bryant made the first attempt and missed the second, it would have been looked on much differently.
- Marshawn Lynch was held in check. Atlanta stymied Seattle’s running game by holding its star running back with just 46 yards on the ground, albeit with a scoring run.
- Seattle dug too big of a hole to climb out. In a nail-biting, high-octane clash of two Super Bowl-caliber teams, the one that made the most mistakes usually loses. Seattle’s biggest mistake was not putting up points in the first half.
Player of the game
Matt Ryan was clutch in the closing moments. Ryan threw for 250 yards, completing 24-of-35 passes with three TDs and two interceptions. With 31 seconds left after Seattle just scored a touchdown and regained the lead, Ryan led the Falcons within field goal range with just two plays, good for 42 yards.
Quote of the game
“After 16 years, never winning a playoff game, I was … I’ve never cried after a win,” Tony Gonzalez told FOX after the game. “I was thinking, ‘Here it goes again, I just guess it wasn’t meant to be.’ For us to come back the way we did, I’m so proud of our guys.” Had the Falcons lost, Gonzalez would be spending his 16th straight postseason without a playoff win. Gonzalez has previously said he is 95 percent sure this will be his last season.
The Falcons will host the San Francisco 49ers and Colin Kaepernick next Sunday. It will be interesting to see how Atlanta will contain Kaepernick’s constant threat of keeping the football and converting crucial third downs on man coverage.