Atlanta figured to be able to win against this Seattle team, and they did. It just took some heartburn and a ride on the traditional Atlanta Falcons Roller Coaster (TM) to get there.
The Falcons’ defense had a rough go of it much of the day, but was able to stop a few productive drives short of the end zone and hold to Seattle to three, which proved to be decisive, and came up with huge plays at the very end of the game to hold on to the lead. The Falcons had a couple of drives stopped short by errors, as well, but the offense was productive and fun much of the day and did enough to put Atlanta out in front when the clock hit zero. It was anything but an even effort, but it had its sparkling moments and the Falcons emerged victorious, which is absolutely all I’m going to ask of this team in 2022.
Here’s the drive-by-drive recap.
The Seahawks opened with the ball. After Rashaad Penny picked up an easy first down on his opening carry, Geno Smith found Tyler Lockett for five yards, and then Penny ran wild for consecutive first downs. The Seahawks made it all the way inside the Atlanta 20 before that bend-don’t-break defense didn’t break thanks to A.J. Terrell’s sterling coverage on D.K. Metcalf in the end zone, holding Seattle to a field goal. 3-0 Seahawks.
We started off with a deep shot to an open Kyle Pitts down the middle of the field, but Marcus Mariota overthrew it. Fortunately, he found Pitts again two plays later after a solid Cordarrelle Patterson carry for a first down, and then a Seattle penalty helped get the team to midfield. Mariota found Anthony Firkser downfield for another chunk pickup to move the team to the 30. Kyle Pitts took a short pass a very long way, setting up a Marcus Mariota touchdown plunge that was initially ruled short but overturned on the challenge. 7-3 Falcons.
The Seahawks realized my worst fears, connecting on a deep ball to the tight end to pick up huge yardage and bring them nearly to Atlanta’s red zone. Smith found Will Dissly after an unproductive Penny carry, and unfortunately it was a wide open look that brought the veteran tight end into the end zone. An all-too-easy 10-7 lead for the Seahawks.
The Falcons sought to answer. Mariota was a touch off on a couple of throws, but he kept firing and taking shots downfield and it worked out really well for him, with big gains for Olamide Zaccheaus and Kyle Pitts and a near touchdown that he put right into Drake London’s hands. Inside the 20, the Falcons got moved back on second down thanks to a Drew Dalman holding call and then Mariota was sacked despite a holding call again. The next play saw another Falcons penalty, but Atlanta was able to salvage the drive with a Younghoe Koo field goal. 10-10 game.
The Seahawks couldn’t start off the next quarter effectively, going three and out quickly with a sack and a near-interception of Mykal Walker.
The Falcons couldn’t get the run going, but when you have Mariota to London who cares? The Falcons moved past midfield thanks to Mariota chucking it up to an open London for a big gain. He was absolutely destroyed on the next play as a slow-developing call got him smushed when his pass protection failed, but Mariota found Zaccheaus for another big gain on the very next play. He then found Pitts over the middle for another big gain before Cordarrelle Patterson rolled it in on a long carry on the very next play. A beautiful drive. 17-10 Falcons.
The Seahawks, unfortunately, answered. They still couldn’t run the ball, but they passed very effectively, with Geno Smith completing those deep balls I was concerned about repeatedly, including on a critical fourth down attempt. He found DK Metcalf for the touchdown to cap things off and tie them up. 17-17.
Unfortunately, the Falcons couldn’t take advantage of their next opportunity. Patterson went nowhere on his first down carry and then Mariota missed Pitts deep, setting up a third and long that saw Mariota under pressure and targeting Pitts deep, but unfortunately the duo couldn’t connect. After Mariota found so much success deep, he finally missed a bit and Atlanta’s defense was back on the field.
The Falcons defense was abysmal on this drive, allowing Geno Smith to push the ball downfield effectively until Seattle was knocking on the door. Thankfully, they did come up with the stop just in time, forcing the Seahawks to settled for a field goal they unfortunately hit. 20-17 Seattle.
The Falcons decided to try to make something happen with five seconds left. Mariota threw it about 15 yards but was picked off, but thankfully Parker Hesse made the tackle to stop the return. I don’t mind giving it a shot at the end of the half, but as many fans pointed out to me right after the play, that could’ve been catastrophic had Hesse not made the tackle. Weird play.
The Falcons had the ball to start the half. Mariota was able to find Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson for some nice gains, and a roughing the passer penalty on Seattle kept the Falcons moving until they were all the way to the 25. There, the Falcons got four yards on a Patterson carry, saw Mariota throw it out of bounds under pressure, and then a false start backed them up. Mariota had time but couldn’t find an option he liked and was ultimately hit when he threw, setting up a fourth down and a long (54 yard) Koo field goal try. He hit it and it was a tie game, 20-20.
Seattle found it frustratingly easy to move again, with Geno Smith connecting with his options seemingly at will to get the Seahawks within striking distance. The Falcons’ defense looked hole-ridden until they once again clamped down to force a Seattle field goal try, which felt like a major victory at this point. 23-20 Seahawks.
The Falcons decided to change the channel to the Cordarrelle Patterson Show, with great results. Patterson picked up two huge gains to start the drive and put the Falcons in the red zone in what seemed like instants. While the Falcons couldn’t run it—a Marcus Mariota designed run was sniffed out and snuffed out—Mariota found Drake London close to the first down marker on a nice pass and London did the rest, powering through contact to score a touchdown. 27-23 Falcons.
The Seahawks were stymied a bit more, coming up to third down repeatedly, but they were able to convert to the great frustration of both you and I. Fortunately for Atlanta, a holding call backed them up and the defense did the rest, tipping a Geno Smith pass on second down and stopping a play well short of a first down on third down. A rare punt.
The Falcons wanted to salt the game away—or get closer—and their drive showed that. Patterson put together a highlight-reel hurdle and picked up a ton of yardage on the ground and Mariota was sharp on short throws to receivers who were willing and able to pick up more yards, keeping the drive moving. A strange timeout for NFL security saw officials pull the players off the field and we had to wait, reportedly due to a unauthorized drone hovering over the stadium. Avery Williams picked up a lot on the next carry, but then a fumbled Mariota-Tyler Allgeier handoff gave Seattle the ball back.
On first down, Lorenzo Carter came in and sacked Geno Smith to put Seattle back on their heels immediately. Smith was able to connect on the next play, however, and the Seahawks fought through Atlanta’s defense for a first down and then a big chunk of yardage to move them up to the Atlanta 30. Rashaad Penny got into a groove again, but Grady Jarrett is a monster and did monster things, sacking Smith and moving them way back. Geno Smith’s desperation heave was picked off by Richie Grant, giving Atlanta the ball back with 1:17 on the clock.
They ran the ball, of course, with Seattle calling a timeout after Patterson picked up several yards. The Falcons were able to pick up enough to put them in a position to kneel out the clock, and they earned their first win of the 2022 season.