We called this game a must-win, more or less, and the Falcons treated it like one. Except in typical Falcons fashion, this must-win and did-win looked got awfully close to a loss.
The Falcons were stupendously bad on special teams throughout much of the night, squandered a couple of quality opportunities on offense, and regularly let Seattle knock on the door before the defense stiffened up and held them to field goals. The result was that a game that could very well have been a blowout turning into an off-and-on nailbiter, with only a Blair Walsh missed field goal at the end saving the Falcons from overtime and a possible loss.
Atlanta is now 6-4 and still in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt, but they have got to stop doing that to us. Please.
Here’s the drive-by-drive recap of the game. Please drink and sleep, friends.
Killer initial return for Andre Roberts, who brought it back 50 yards. The Falcons got a dropped Julio Jones pass and Tevin Coleman pass to follow, but Justin Hardy bailed them out on third down. The Falcons got some nice plays and a pass interference call to get them to the one yard line, and then Tevin Coleman punched it in, with Dontari Poe on the field. A remarkably easy first drive for Atlanta.
Falcons 7 - Seahawks 0
The Seahawks got the ball back, picked up a quick nine yards on a pass to Tyler Lockett...and then Russell Wilson chucked an interception to Desmond Trufant, who returned it 44 yards, fumbling it before picking it back up again.
The Falcons were able to make their opportunity count, connecting with Julio Jones on a pretty 19 yard gain and surviving a near-goal line interception by Matt Ryan to pick up the score on a two yard Mohamed Sanu grab. That meant a two touchdown lead for Atlanta.
Falcons 14 - Seahawks 0
Unfortunately, the Seahawks weren’t dead yet. Their next drive featured a heavy dose of running back Mike Davis, who ripped off a couple of big gains to get Seattle deep into Atlanta territory. The Falcons appeared to get the stop on third down before C.J. Goodwin got popped with a questionable tripping call, extending the Seattle drive. They scored on a Russell Wilson pass to Jimmy Graham, and the gap narrowed.
Falcons 14 - Seahawks 7
The next drive really never got going for Atlanta. The Falcons were plagued by penalties and a couple of mistakes, including a critical third down drop from Justin Hardy that ended the drive cold.
The Seahawks almost immediately made a huge mistake again. Takkarist McKinley sacked Russell Wilson with Courtney Upshaw, who tore the ball out, and Adrian Clayborn scooped it up and returned it ten yards for a touchdown.
Falcons 21 - Seahawks 7
The Seahawks made a drive of it, getting all the way down to the 1 yard line before a massive Keanu Neal hit and subsequent bullying of Jimmy Graham and a penalty backed them up, and they had to settle for a field goal. Don’t mess around with Keanu Neal, please.
Falcons 21 - Seahawks 10
Unfortunately, Andre Roberts muffed the subsequent kickoff, the Seahawks recovered, and they had the ball at the Atlanta 11. They very nearly came up short—they did on third down, but went for it on fourth—but came up with the touchdown and extra point to close the gap to a field goal. Absolutely crushing mistake.
Falcons 21 - Seahawks 17
The Falcons got it for the first time in the second quarter on offense. No, seriously. They had two largely ineffective runs but then got the ball to Tevin Coleman on a pass and he picked up 15 yards with some nice blocking, followed by Mohamed Sanu picking up 21 on a reception. Unfortunately, the Falcons would ultimately fizzle out mightily (and continue to not run the ball well!), with Atlanta settling for a field goal. Matt Bryant, of course, made it.
Falcons 24 - Seahawks 17
The Seahawks were wizardly on the subsequent drive, with Russell Wilson making some amazing playing and willing his team into the red zone. Unfortunately for Seattle, Pete Carroll decided to squander his shot at points, calling an ill-advised fake field goal with seven seconds left on the clock that Grady Jarrett sniffed out and turned into...well, halftime.
The Seahawks got the ball to start things off, and a nice Mike Davis pickup and a very questionable pass interference call on Robert Alford got them into the red zone with very little effort. Thankfully, Grady Jarrett was there to bring down Russell Wilson for an eight yard loss on second down, backing Seattle up to 3rd and 12. They weren’t able to convert, and Blair Walsh hit the 37 yarder to further close the gap.
Falcons 24 - Seahawks 20
Atlanta got off to a shaky start on their next drive, but things went beautifully after that. A Matt Ryan scramble on third down picked up a first and 14 yards, Ryan hit Julio for another first down, and then he connected for the second time on the drive with the great Levine Toilolo, resulting a 25 yard touchdown that put the Falcons up by two scores. Easy! Sort of.
Falcons 31 - Seahawks 20
Seattle had absolutely no trouble moving the ball, but the Falcons made a critical mistake that made it all possible. The Seahawks fell short on 3rd and 2, but the Falcons accepted a holding call to make it 3rd and long, and Seattle converted. Thankfully, though, Kemal Ishmael picked up a sack to make it third and very long, and Seattle once again settled for a field goal.
Falcons 31 - Seahawks 23
The Falcons got a first down thanks to a nice Tevin Coleman run and a Julio Jones grab. Thus ended the third quarter.
Atlanta’s drive stalled out badly juuuust out of field goal range when Ryan Schraeder absolutely failed to make a block (which is rare) and the Falcons got penalized for a false start (not so rare). Matt Bosher punted the ball to the Seattle 10.
That left Seattle needing and wanting a long touchdown drive and a shot at tying things up, and they could not get it going. Punt.
The Falcons took over on their own 38 and dithered for two plays before Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for 29 yards and an easy first down. Then the Falcons fed Terron Ward, who picked up a beautiful 17 yard gain to bring Atlanta within five yards of a score. They couldn’t quite punch it in, falling just a yard shy on a reviewed Tevin Coleman plunge, and they wisely took the points with under 4 minutes to go.
Falcons 34 - Seahawks 23
This was it for Seattle, which needed a score and probably an onsides kick to win. Russell Wilson wasted no time, scrambling for a first down, hitting Jimmy Graham for another, and connecting with JD McKissic on a short play that became a long gain thanks to an unnecessary roughness call on Keanu Neal. Then Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 29 yard touchdown, and just like that, Seattle was back in the the game with less than a minute off the clock. Then the Seahawks got the two point conversion, and suddenly it was hold on to your butts time in Atlanta.
Falcons 34 - Seahawks 31
The Falcons just needed a single first down to ice the game, but they couldn’t get it, as two Tevin Coleman runs and a third down sack forced the punt. Fortunately, it was a hell of a punt, and the Seahawks picked up a holding call on the return.
It didn’t matter. They bullrushed down the field, with a Vic Beasley offsides helping them, and got within field goal range with just seven seconds to go. It looked like the Falcons would be headed to overtime, but miraculously, blissfully, Blair Walsh missed the field goal short, and Atlanta hung on to win.