Spending two years as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, Quinn oversaw a defense which won the Super Bowl in 2013 and came one Malcolm Butler interception away from winning again in 2014.
The Falcons have played against Quinn’s former team four times since he took over for Mike Smith in 2015, with some mixed results in the form of a 2-2 record.
Let’s take a look at how each of those games ended up playing out ahead of the eventual fifth matchup in Week 1 of the 2020 season.
2016 (Week 6) - Seahawks 26, Falcons 24
The first meeting Quinn’s new team had against his old squad was by far the most controversial. The Falcons had gotten off to a rampant start in the 2016 campaign - entering Week 6 on a four-game winning streak which featured victories against the previous season’s two Super Bowl participants and the New Orleans Saints in succession.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, were on their own three-game winning streak and were coming off of a bye.
In what was a back and forth game which saw Atlanta erase a 17-3 halftime deficit behind the strength of 21-unanswered third quarter points, the Falcons found themselves trailing late, 26-24, and facing 4th-and-10 from their own 25 when this happened:
Quinn displayed the type of sideline emotion we had never seen from him before and for good reason - the replays clearly show that Julio Jones’ arm was yanked by Richard Sherman while the ball was in the air, and the refs made no call. Instead of putting Atlanta in field goal range for Matt Bryant (who was automatic), Seattle took over possession and won the game.
To their credit, however, Falcons fans didn’t try to sue the NFL as a result of having a crucial pass interference not called in their favor.
The Falcons fell to 4-2, while Seattle moved to 4-1. This was a game which came close to having tiebreaker implications at the end of the season, but justice prevailed as a Week 16 Arizona Cardinals upset of the Seahawks helped give Atlanta the 2-seed and a first round bye over Seattle.
It also forced Pete Carroll’s team to travel to Atlanta in that year’s Divisional Round of the playoffs. Speaking of which.
2016 (Divisional Round) - Falcons 36, Seahawks 20
The Falcons and Seahawks met in the Georgia Dome for a high-stakes rematch that January, with the Falcons looking for Week 7 revenge and the Seahawks looking for revenge for what happened in the 2012 playoffs in that same venue.
Following a steady back and forth start to the game, momentum completely shifted when Russell Wilson tripped on the foot of Reese Odhiambo, fell into his own end zone and was touched down by Ben Garland. Atlanta took the lead on its ensuing possession following the safety kick, and Kyle Shanahan revved up the engine to his Ferrari of an offense throughout the rest of the afternoon.
Atlanta went on a 31-3 scoring run between that safety and the garbage time stages of the fourth quarter, leaving Quinn’s former defensive unit completely bewildered.
The Falcons went on to host the NFC Championship Game a week later and win that one in an even more dominant fashion before my memory starts getting hazy when trying to remember what happened after that.
2017 (Week 11) - Falcons 34, Seahawks 31
For the second consecutive year, Atlanta traveled to the Pacific Northwest to meet the Seahawks in Century Link Field. This game got the Primetime treatment, as it was showcased on Monday Night Football.
The Falcons got off to a quick 14-0 start and never trailed in this one, but they did allow the hosts to nearly fight all the way back throughout the evening. They were also fortunate that a terrible fake field goal call by Pete Carroll at the edge of halftime was blown up by a brilliant individual play from Grady Jarrett.
Up 34-31, Atlanta punted away possession of the ball in the late stages of the fourth quarter and allowed Seattle to get into field goal range in less than two minutes. The 52-yard attempt was just outside of Blair Walsh’s range, however, and his kick came up a few feet short as time expired.
Quinn’s team improved to 6-4 while Carroll’s squad fell to 6-4. This game ended up being pivotal in the NFC Wildcard race, as the Falcons won the conference’s final playoff spot with a 10-6 record while Seattle was on the outside looking in at 9-7.
2019 (Week 8) - Seahawks 27, Falcons 20
Last year’s matchup between these teams was the first time Matt Ryan didn’t suit up at quarterback for the Falcons in a full decade, because of an injury he had sustained the week prior.
Atlanta was reeling going into Week 8, sitting at a 1-6 record with many people thinking that defeat in this one, going into the bye, would be the final nail in the coffin for Dan Quinn’s prospects of remaining Atlanta’s head coach.
Boy was it ugly in the second quarter - the Seahawks scored touchdowns on all three of their possessions in that period to take a 24-0 lead into the halftime break.
In what would be a harbinger of things to come following their bye, however, the Falcons fought back valiantly despite having initially put themselves in such a big hole. The final scoreline was a far more respectable 27-20. Matt Schaub threw for 420 passing yards, Quinn survived and remains the team’s head coach.