The Falcons just did not play well in general against the Seahawks on Sunday, to the point that it's difficult to narrow it down to just three plays that directly contributed to the loss.
The defense looked pretty good to start the game, forcing one punt and holding Seattle to two field goals on their first three possessions, but things got out of hand quickly after that. Following a Matt Bryant field goal that put the Falcons on the board and narrowed the Seahawks' lead to 6-3, Seattle used their first play of the ensuing drive to execute a trick play.
What's a trick play, you may ask, seeing as how the Falcons seem to never even consider running one? In this case, it was a handoff in the backfield to running back Marshawn Lynch, who then pitched the ball back to Russell Wilson, who tossed a 43-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
The Seahawks start out in the I formation, with Lynch in the backfield. Atlanta's defense is set up to stop the run.
Despite the offensive holding, William Moore is closing in on Marshawn Lynch, but, hey, look at Russell Wilson over there. Meanwhile, Kearse is continuing on his route, while Atlanta's defense appears to be wholly occupied with whatever Marshawn Lynch is doing.
Lynch pitches the ball back to Wilson, a legal (slightly) backward pass, and the Falcons defense adjusts. Thomas DeCoud and Desmond Trufant scramble to cover Kearse, the rest of the defense adjusts their course to move toward Wilson.
But, look. Kearse already has position on DeCoud, and Trufant is pretty far off to be able to make a move to prevent this play.
Trufant is at least looking for the ball, although he's not in a position to do anything about it. DeCoud is not looking for the ball. He's in a position that he might have at least been able to deflect it. He didn't. It's a touchdown, extending the Seahawks' lead to 13-3.
The Falcons had a pretty rough time against Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on Sunday, but the most frustrating play may have been Lynch's one-yard touchdown run. It was really more like a one-yard touchdown walk into the end zone unchallenged in any way. The Falcons were down 26-10 at this point, so it was a three possession game, but they did have most of the fourth quarter remaining to try to make up the deficit.
The Seahawks line up with Russell Wilson under center, and Marshawn Lynch and fullback Michael Robinson are in the backfield. They have receivers spread to the left, and Atlanta's defense is spread to the left in coverage as well.
After the snap, Lynch takes the handoff. Robinson has DeCoud tangled up, and Asante Samuel and Desmond Trufant are both tied up with their coverage assignments. Akeem Dent at least tries to get to Lynch, but no defensive player is in position to do anything about it at that point. Lynch basically walks into the end zone, extending Seattle's lead to 33-10, and really putting the game out of the Falcons' reach even by the most optimistic standards.
The play that was perhaps most emblematic of Atlanta's season came with 6:16 remaining in the game. Because the game was basically out of reach, this play probably did not contribute directly to the loss, however, converting this drive to a touchdown would have made the loss less embarrassing, and you have to take what you can get this season.
With a little help from a couple of Seahawks penalties, the Falcons execute a nice offensive drive to nearly mid-field. The Falcons line up in the shotgun on their own 49, and Matt Ryan, despite being under a decent amount of pressure, throws a nice completion to Harry Douglas over the middle.
The Seahawks are going to have to work to catch up with Douglas. He's off and running.
And then this happens.
The Seahawks recover the fumble, the Falcons get humiliated at home, and drop to a 2-7 record.
What were your three pivotal plays of the game?
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