After all the talk about Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons inability to win a playoff game, they proved everyone wrong in dramatic fashion on Sunday. What started off looking like a blowout, then the Falcons choking away the lead in the fourth quarter and ended with a miraculous drive to tear the “playoff monkey” off their back.
After blowing a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan led the Falcons down to the Seahawks 31-yard line to set up Matt Bryant for a 49-yard field goal. Bryant nailed it right through the middle to give the Falcons a 30-28 lead with just 6 seconds left in the game. Atlanta oddly did a squib kick that was knocked down at the Seattle 45 and recovered by linebacker Heath Farwell. Russell WIlson threw a quick pass to Doug Baldwin to put the ball at the Atlanta 48 with 2 seconds left. Wilson went heaved the ball into the end zone but it was picked off by Falcons receiver Julio Jones to end the game.
The game looked like it was going to be a blowout before the second half. The Falcons were leading 20-0 and the Seahawks continued to shoot themselves in the foot with mental mistakes. Matt Ryan already had 2 TD passes in the first half and the Falcons were establishing the run with Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. The Seahawks meanwhile, ended the half in embarrassment when Wilson couldn’t stop the clock as time ran out at the Atlanta 20. Wilson’s error added to a list of poor decisions made by coach Pete Carroll which included going for it on 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 16 with Michael Robinson instead of taking the 3 points down 13-0. Robinson never crossed the line of scrimmage and the Falcons needed just 3 plays before Ryan hooked up with Roddy White for a 47-yard touchdown.
Seattle got the ball to begin the second half and Russell Wilson needed just 8 plays to take it down to the 29-yard line before he found Golden Tate for the Seahawks first touchdown of the game. The Falcons quickly answered back with a 7-minute drive captivated by a shuffle pass to running back Jason Snelling to put the score at 27-7. Seattle came back to begin the fourth quarter when Wilson scrambled in from a yard out to cut the lead to 13. Atlanta got the ball back but Ryan was picked off by Earl Thomas and the Seahawks got the ball back at their own 39. Wilson again looked like a veteran quarterback as he led his team down the field, thanks to a big catch and run from Robert Turbin gave the Seahawks the ball at the Falcons 3. Wilson came back the next play to find tight end Zach Miller open for the touchdown. While it was Miller’s only TD of the game he shined on Sunday with one great catch after another. Down just six points both teams exchanged possessions before Seattle had another chance with just 3 minutes left in the game at their own 39. Wilson was brilliant on the drive finding Golden Tate for 15 yards to put the ball at the Falcons 32 then 3 plays later scrambling out of a sack to find an open Marshawn Lynch who rumbled to the 4. After a Falcons penalty Lynch rumbled in for the score and Ryan Longwell converted the extra point to give the Seahawks their first lead of the game with 31 seconds left. Just when everyone thought the Falcons choked the game away, Matt Ryan finally showed what everyone was waiting for in the playoffs. Two great throws were all the Falcons needed to put them in field goal range and they won the game.
It was a fantastic game to witness and surpassed every expectations anyone had for a playoff game between two great teams. Matt Ryan got his first playoff win and now looks like an elite QB. While the Seahawks fell just short of a trip to the NFC Championship their future certainly looks bright with potential Rookie of the Year QB Russell Wilson at the helm. Now the Falcons have a week to prepare for Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers, but at least they get to stay home.
Passing: Russell Wilson – 24/36 385 yards 3 TD’s (1 rushing) 1 interception
Rushing: Michael Turner – 14 Carries 98 Yards
Receiving: Zach Miller – 8 Receptions 142 Yards 1 TD