The highlight of Sunday was a fight between two high-flying birds. One got their wings clipped in the non-call seen around the world as the Seattle Seahawks held on to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 26-24.
There were a few interesting storylines going into the game between division leaders. The league’s number one offense (Atlanta) was facing off against the league’s number one defense (Seattle) – most notably a match up between Julio Jones and Richard Sherman and Atlanta’s head coach Dan Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator and architect of the “Legion of Boom” was headed home for the first time to face off with his old team.
The real winner was the football fan. Momentum swung back and forth as Seattle took a 14-3 lead at halftime, holding the league’s top QB to only 83 passing yards. That all changed in the third quarter.
Atlanta scored 21 unanswered points with Ryan throwing for three scores and 220 yards forcing Richard Sherman to have a massive meltdown on the sideline that was caught on camera.
Ryan started off everything following the second half kickoff as the offense mixed run pass plays well that saw Devonta Freeman break a couple of nice runs. It ended when Ryan found Jones from 36 yards out.
Atlanta tied to score on their next drive which saw Mohammed Sanu make a nice catch on Ryan’s pass from ten yards out in traffic.
It all culminated when Ryan found an extremely wide open Levine Toilolo on the left side burning Sherman and going 46 yards for the score with 17 seconds left in the quarter. In the third quarter alone Ryan was 13-of-17 for 220 yards and the three scores.
After dominating the first two quarters the Seahawks took control of the fourth although things almost didn’t end as they would have liked – and to be quite honest probably shouldn’t.
The Seahawks started the quarter by driving down to the Falcons’ ten where the drive finally stalled. But fate looked to be on Atlanta’s side as Steven Hauschka missed a 29-yard field goal.
All of a sudden the Atlanta express could not get going. After hitting Toilolo for a first down the Atlanta offense bogged down as Ryan was sacked on third down and were forced to punt.
From there Russell Wilson was able to get the Seahawks back on track completing for passes, a pair to Jermaine Kearse finishing the drive with a one-yard dive by Christine Michael to pull within one with 5:23 to play. Hauschka missed the extra point attempt to tie the score,
Now clinging to a one-point lead Matt Ryan made his first mistake in weeks. On first down from their 39 Earl Thomas picked off Ryan’s pass intended for Jones at the Seahawk 45 and returned it to midfield.
Seattle was able to get to the Atlanta 26 and took the lead on a Hauschka 44-yard field goal with 1:57 to play.
Still there was plenty of time for a rally. Ryan threw four incomplete passes. The last was the non-call seen around the world and will cause discussion in football circles for sometime. It was the ultimate match up with of Jones versus Sherman. Ryan threw deep, the two were airborne just inside the Seahawk 40 and it appeared to everyone except the refs that Sherman pulled back Jones’ right arm. Julio tried to make a one-handed catch with his left just missing as the two crumbled to the turf. Awaiting a flag – none was thrown. Falcons’ coach Dan Quinn went ballistic as did the entire Atlanta sideline. However penalties are not reviewable. Seattle ball with 1:30 to play. After a couple of kneel downs the game was over and the Seahawks were able to escape with a controversial 26-24 win.
“I was certainly ticked off as a competitor. But I’ll let them comment on the play. But as a competitor, you probably saw that on the sideline from me,” said Quinn.
And while there is no real consolation the Falcons proved they are for real putting a lot of doubters on notice despite losing. The vaunted Seahawks defense was unable to corral the number one passing game in the league. Ryan threw for 335 yards spreading the ball around to nine different receivers and Jones caught seven passes for 139 yards. Jones is the first receiver to gain 100 yards receiving on the Seattle’s secondary. And while Atlanta’s running game took a back seat this week to the running game, Seattle’s did not do much better as they only totaled 72 yards. The game was as even as it gets with both team has 22 first downs and the Falcons offense gaining 29 more yards than the Seahawks.
The Falcons fall to 4-2 with the loss holding a 1½ game lead over Tampa Bay who had a bye week. They will return home to the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome for the next two weeks. Sunday they will face Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05pm and the game will be aired on Fox.
– Dave Weinthal
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