Falcons thrash SeahawksDespite going down to an early 7-0 deficit, the Falcons came back and never looked back as they took down the Seattle Seahawks on the road by a score of 34-18. The Falcons finish their road schedule with a record 6-2, and are now 12-2 going into the final two weeks. This week’s win also clinches a playoff berth for the Falcons.
Matt Ryan led the Falcons, completing 20 of 35 passes for 174 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. On the ground, Michael Turner rushed for 82 yards on 25 carries. Roddy White led receivers with 7 receptions for 65 yards and a score. Tony Gonzalez added 4 grabs for 26 yards. Jason Snelling (4 catches, 15 yards) and Michael Jenkins (3 catches, 48 yards) each had touchdown receptions as well. The Falcons were able to dominate time of possession for most of the game, especially in the second and third quarters where they held the ball for 21 minutes vs. the Seahawks 9.
The game kicked off with a long, methodical drive by the Seahawks to march 80 yards on 12 plays, finishing with a 1-yard run from Marshawn Lynch for the score. That drive ate up the first 7:32 of the first quarter. The Falcons answered back with their own 15-play, 51-yard drive that consumed just over eight minutes. That drive included two gutsy 4th & 1 conversions to extend those drives. Ryan finished it with a 3-yard pass to Jason Snelling for the score. After a three and out by the Seahawks offense, the Falcons got the ball back and continued their long, methodical drives with another 51-yard drive for over 7 minutes. It ended with a 27-yard field goal from Matt Bryant. Another Seahawks three and out would give the Falcons the ball back with over 4 minutes remaining in the half, but Matt Ryan threw an interception to Jordan Babineaux, which set up a field goal from Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare to tie up the game. But with getting the ball back with 2:05 on the clock, Matt Ryan led the team on a 13-play, 80-yard drive, hitting Michael Jenkins for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds to go to take a 17-10 halftime lead. The second half got off to a promising start after the Falcons punted on their opening possession. On the first play, Jamaal Anderson stripped Matt Hasselbeck in the endzone, which led to a recovery for a touchdown by Jonathan Babineaux. The next Seahawks drive led to another turnover, with Brent Grimes picking off Hasselbeck. That turned into another Bryant field goal to give the Falcons a 27-10 lead. Another interception on a tipped pass from Grimes landed in the hands of William Moore on the very next possession. And the Falcons capitalized four plays later with Ryan’s 5-yard scoring pass to White. With a 34-10 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Falcons proceeded to run out the clock. With a quarterback change, the Seahawks were able to score again under the command of Charlie Whitehurst, who scrambled for the touchdown from the 1-yard line. And then hit Ben Obamanu on the two-point conversion, after a pass interference penalty on Chris Owens negated the Falcons stop on the previous conversion attempt. But it was the Seahawks parting shot as the Falcons were able to run down the clock and close out the game for the win.
Defensively, the Falcons got off to a rocky start on the opening series, but picked things up as the game wore on. They held the Seahawks to 234 total yards, and only allowed them to convert 4 of 12 third downs. Their two interceptions, and the fumble recovery were six all made for a strong defensive performance. Curtis Lofton led defenders with 7 tackles. John Abraham (4 tackles, 1 sack), Jamaal Anderson (1 tackle, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble), Thomas DeCoud (6 tackles), Brent Grimes (3 tackles, 1 interception, 5 passes defended), William Moore (5 tackles, 1 interception), Corey Peters (2 tackles), Mike Peterson (3 tackles), Dunta Robinsno (3 tackles), Sean Weatherspoon (5 tackles), and Brian Wiliams (2 tackles) had noteworthy performances.
Matt Bryant hit both of his field goal attempts (27 and 25 yards), while Michael Koenen punted 4 times for an average of 45 yards with half of his punts going inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems returned a punt for 12 yards and had a 46-yard kickoff return as well. Also, along with Chris Owens and Ovie Mughelli contributed two special teams stops. They helped limit one of the leagues’ most feared return men in Leon Washington to a miniscule output.
Next week the Falcons face off against division rival New Orleans Saints at home. A win will clinch them the NFC South division crown, their first since 2004. That would also put them at 13 wins, their second highest regular season win total in franchise history. The Falcons beat the Saints earlier this season in a dramatic overtime victory by a score of 27-24. But prior to that, they had lost 3 straight to the Saints and 7 of their previous 8. Their last home win vs. the Saints came in 2008, and it’s their lone one in their last 4 tries. The Saints are coming off a road loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and have won 9 of their last 10 outings in the second game on a two-game road stand. The Falcons are 8-0 under Mike Smith in home games immediately following a road win.