It looked a little unlikely in the first half, but a phenomenal second half performance brought the Falcons to the precipice of a 5th win. Unfortunately, they dropped the game late, but it was an impressive effort against a genuine contender.
When the Seahawks weren’t hitting Ryan, they were harassing him. Seattle’s defense kept the Falcons from getting in a rhythm.
Meanwhile, the defense didn’t have much going its way, either. Desmond Trufant forced a fumble, but the Seahawks recovered.
Ryan also fumbled, after a Cliff Avril strip-sack, but the Falcons did not recover. It’s the first fumble Ryan has lost this season. Christine Michael scored a rushing touchdown on the next play, giving the Seahawks a 7-0 lead, so it was truly unfortunate.
The Falcons finally got into a bit of a rhythm, despite consistent pressure on Ryan, and executed a drive that culminated in a Matt Bryant field goal, cutting Seattle’s lead to 7-3.
Unfortunately, the defense gave up a touchdown on the next drive, so the Seahawks went up 14-3. Keanu Neal forced a Christine Michael fumble on the drive, but the Falcons did not recover. It’s good to force fumbles, but you have to actually recover them.
Seattle added one more field goal and took a 17-3 lead into the half.
The Falcons’ offense looked like they made adjustments and came out swinging after the half. On Atlanta’s first possession, Ryan hit Julio Jones with a deep 36-yard pass that Jones took for a touchdown.
Richard Sherman was quite mad about this, but Julio kept chewing up the Seahawks, adding catches of 24 and 16 yards on the very next possession.
The offense was finally clicking, and the momentum had shifted. Ryan delivered a strike to Mohamed Sanu to tie up the game, 17-17.
Take a moment to appreciate this situation. The Falcons were down two scores at the half, in Seattle, at Century Link, which is a notoriously difficult place for visiting teams to play, much less succeed. They’re doing this after spending over a week on the road, away from home.
Under these conditions, they fought back from a 14-point deficit to take a seven-point lead on a wide-open Levine Toilolo touchdown. Levine Toilolo. Wide open. Touchdown. The Falcons took a 24-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Atlanta decided to make it interesting in the fourth quarter, allowing the Seahawks to march down the field and get into scoring range in relatively short order. Then they forced the three and out and Seattle missed the short field goal, and the Falcons’ lead stood at 24-17. Still.
The Falcons got the ball back and got to driving, make it nearly to midfield before a huge third down sack doomed the effort.
The Seahawks then drove, drove, drove and wound up inside the red zone, where they wound up scoring the game-tying touchdown. Or they would have, if Ra’Shede Hageman didn’t BLOCK THE EXTRA POINT, preserving a one point Atlanta lead. What an incredible play.
The Falcons then began driving before a pass bounced off Julio’s hands and wound up as an interception. The Seahawks weren’t able to get more than a field goal, thankfully, thanks to a very game Atlanta defense. That still left the Seahawks up 26-24 with little time to go.
Unfortunately, on Atlanta’s last drive, they missed on four straight passes, three to Sanu and one to Julio Jones. It felt like a wasted opportunity to make something happen, but that doomed the effort, and Atlanta ultimately lost. Still, this was the kind of effort that convinces you a team is for real, even if they can’t quite make it happen.