Despite each currently residing in the NFC and both having operated as NFL franchises since 1976, the Falcons and Seahawks have only met for a total of 20 head to head matchups in this past nearly 50-year time period. The Seahawks lead the hea-to-head series with a 12-8 mark.
Outside of their inaugural season in 1976, Seattle actually resided in the AFC for the first 26 years of its NFL existence until realignment happened in 2002. As a result, Atlanta and Seattle met head to head only seven times in that time period.
The Seahawks’ first ever home win as an NFL franchise came against the Falcons in ‘76 — a 30-13 drubbing in Week 9, at the Kingdome. Despite being a brand new franchise, Seattle won the first two matchups in the 1970s, and then the next two that were played in the 1980s. The Falcons bounced back with two wins in the 1990s, before Seattle initiated some revenge in the form of a 30-10 victory in the 2000 season.
After realignment, these teams became a lot more accommodated with each other, playing 13 times head to head since 2002, including twice in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs. Seattle is 7-6 in those matchups overall.
The tide turned in Atlanta’s favor with the arrival of the Matt Ryan era in 2008, and this was even after the Dirty Birds had an incredibly memorable and fun comeback victory in the 2007, where Chris Redman threw four touchdowns in a 44-41 triumph where Atlanta was a heavy Week 17 underdog.
The Falcons were 5-2 against the Seahawks with Ryan under center, including massive victories in the 2012 and 2016 NFC Divisional Round playoff matchups — two of the greatest performances in the team’s history within the Georgia Dome. The 2012 victory was Ryan’s first ever playoff win, and Matt Bryant’s game winning field goal is still thought of as one of the greatest moments in franchise history.
The Birds outclassed Seattle in every facet of the game in the 2016 playoffs, winning 36-20 behind Kyle Shanahan’s prolific offense.
Overall, Ryan threw for a combined 588 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in those two combined playoff triumphs.
A couple of memorable matchups between the two teams from the Dan Quinn era include a narrow Seattle victory in the 2016 season where the refs completely botched an egregious Richard Sherman pass interference against Julio Jones (again, the Falcons did get revenge for that in the playoffs a few months later), and a 2017 Falcons win on Monday Night Football where Blair Walsh missed a field goal in the closing seconds, which ultimately ended up being the difference in Atlanta edging Seattle out for the final NFC Wildcard spot.
Seattle won the past two matchups head to head in 2019 and 2020, but the Falcons were arguably their biggest boogeyman in the Legion of Boom era.
The Falcons and Seahawks met in Week 1 of the 2020 season, with Seattle looking to build on their run of six playoff appearances in seven seasons and the Falcons looking to make it back to the post season for the first time since 2017. There was a renewed sense of hope that Atlanta may figure it out after a strong run of four straight wins ended an overall disappointing 2019 campaign.
The Falcons drove down the field and kicked a field goal on the game’s opening drive, then Takk McKinley sacked Russell Wilson on Seattle’s first play before putting up five fingers to likely indicate his disdain about the Falcons rejecting his fifth-year option earlier in the offseason. Everything was coming up Atlanta, and hope was elevating.
After that, Seattle absolutely washed and outclassed this team. They bounced back from the opening play sack and put together a touchdown scoring drive, and then never relinquished the lead. For whatever reason, the Falcons defense opted to sell out to stop the run, possibly forgetting that Russell Wilson is really good. He went 31-35 for 322 passing yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 143.1.
Calvin Ridley scored a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns, but they didn’t amount to much more than garbage time successes for fantasy players, as Seattle won 38-25 in a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreline indicated.
The Falcons would go on to lose their first five games of the season before firing Dan Quinn and finishing the year 4-12. Seattle went 12-4 and won the NFC West but were one and done in the playoffs after meeting the Rams in the Wildcard round.