Falcons down Seahawks 30-28
The Falcons eked out a win on the road against the Seattle Seahawks with a 30-28 victory. The Falcons got off to a fast start in the first half, taking a 24-7 lead into halftime, but gave way to the Seahawks in the second half.
Matt Ryan passed for 291 yards, while completing 28 of 42 passes with a touchdown. Michael Turner led the team with 26 carries for 70 yards and 2 scores on the ground. Julio Jones led receivers with 11 grabs for 127 yards. Tony Gonzalez (7 catches, 56 yards, 1 touchdown) and Roddy White (6 catches for 78 yards) also helped out the Falcons air attack. Matt Bryant connected on 3 long field goals of 47, 50, and 42 yards. Matt Bosher punted 4 times for an average of 37.5 yards with 2 inside the 20. Eric Weems returned a pair of punts for 24 yards and a lone kickoff for 19 yards. In the first half, the Falcons were able to convert 6 of 8 third downs, but struggled in the second half with only 3 of 8 conversions.
Defensively, the Falcons had a strong first half performance. They held the Seahawks to just 5 yards rushing, and 138 total yards. They also limited them to converting only 1 of 5 third downs, with 5 total first downs in that half. But in the second half, the Seahawks had 15 first downs, converted 5 of 6 third down attempts, and added 234 total yards in their comeback effort. William Moore and Curtis Lofton tied for the team lead with 8 tackles each. Lofton also added an interception. Thomas DeCoud (2 tackles, 1 interception), Ray Edwards (3 tackles), Brent Grimes (5 tackles), Corey Peters (3 tackles), Mike Peterson (2 tackles), and Sean Weatherspoon (7 tackles) all had notable games.
The game started with the Falcons defense forcing a three-and-out for the Seahawks. The Falcons offense responded with a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped off with Ryan hitting Gonzalez in the endzone for a 1-yard touchdown toss and catch. The Falcons success was largely due to their ground attack with Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers combining for 31 of the teams yards on 8 carries on that drive. The next break for the Falcons came at the beginning of the second quarter where Lofton picked off a tipped pass by Mike Peterson to give the Falcons the ball at the Seahawks 37-yard line with 11:44 left on the first half clock. Four plays later, Michael Turner rumbled into the endzone untouched on a 21-yard score. The Seahawks responded with a quick score, as Tarvaris Jackson hit Sidney Rice on a 52-yard score to beat Brent Grimes on the coverage. But the Falcons again moved the ball on their next drive, consuming nearly 6 minutes on a 11-play, 72-yard drive. Ryan capped it by handing off to Turner, who burst up the middle for a 1-yard score to put the Falcons up 21-7 with less than 3 minutes remaining in the second quarter. A three-and-out by the Seahawks offense gave the Falcons another scoring opportunity with 1:43 left on the clock. Ryan was successful in moving the team 33 yards on 9 plays to put them in field goal range for Bryant to hit his first field goal of the day from 47 yards out before halftime.
The second half started with some promise for the Falcons, with Ryan hitting Jones for a 45-yard strike on the first play from scrimmage. Three plays later the team settled for a 50-yard field goal from Bryant to push the lead to 20 points. But the Seahawks answered, with Jackson leading them on a 10-play, 61-yard drive before hitting Mike Williams for a 6-yard score in the endzone. The Falcons offense struggled on their next drive before punting the ball back to the Seahawks. The Seahawks moved down the field, but a big hit by James Sanders on Zach Miller in the endzone, lead to Thomas DeCoud picking off the tipped pass. The Falcons drive began at their own 5, and they barely moved the ball on a three-and-out before Bosher’s short punt was returned by Leon Washington 33 yards to the Falcons own 11-yard line. Marshawn Lynch rumbled into the endzone on the next play to cut the Falcons lead to 27-21 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. The Falcons went on another time-consuming drive, taking up six and a half minutes on 13 plays, but ultimately settled for a 42-yard field goal from Bryant. The Seahawks answered with a 9-play, 60-yard drive to cut the Falcons lead to two. Jackson found a wide open Ben Obomanu for an 8-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive. The Falcons looked to be moving the ball and eating clock on the following drive. They bled over six minutes of clock before they punted once more. The Seahawks got the ball with 1:49 left in the game at their own 15-yard line. In their two-minute drill, they were able to get the ball to midfield in five plays before Jackson spiked the ball with 22 seconds left on the clock. A false start by Sidney Rice on the next play meant they had 2nd & 15 from the 50. Jackson connected to Zach Miller on the next play for 7 yards, but missed on 3rd & 8. With 13 seconds left on the clock, the Seahawks were forced to set up Steven Hauschka for a 61-yard field goal that went short, giving the Falcons the ball and the win.
Next week the Falcons return home to face off against the Green Bay Packers, the last team to beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome, with a 48-21 shellacking in the divisional round of the playoffs last year. The Falcons beat the Packers during the regular season last year at home with a 20-17 victory. Under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are 7-1 in home games directly following road wins. The Falcons sport a 20-2 home record in games that Matt Ryan starts. The Packers have won 6 straight road games, including all 4 postseason matchups last year. Prior to that, they had lost 5 of their previous 6 road tests.