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Seahawks defeat Falcons, run record to 9-1
ATLANTA – Revenge. Avenge. Make amends.
The Seahawks’ 33-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Sunday was all that, and more. This was the site where their 2012 season ended in a disappointing last-second loss to the Falcons in a divisional playoff game. It also was a dominating display against a 2-7 Falcons team after the Seahawks had struggled to outlast the Rams in St. Louis and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home the past two weeks.
The victory lifted the Seahawks record to 9-1, extending the best start in franchise history; keeping them atop the NFC West; and avenging the 30-28 loss to the Falcons in a divisional playoff game here in January.
This also was the Seahawks’ fifth road victory this season, tying the franchise record that was shared by the 1984 and 2005 teams.
The Seahawks host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday, when All-Pro center Max Unger and defensive end Red Bryant could return after they missed the game against the Falcons with concussions. It’s also possible that tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini could be ready to play. Okung has been out since getting a toe injury in the Week 2 home opener against the San Francisco 49ers, while Giacomini has not played since injuring a knee in the Week 3 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Seahawks won the coin toss, but deferred. The defense then forced a three-and-out and the offense drove 48 yards in 11 plays to a 39-yard field goal with 7:32 left in the quarter to give the Seahawks the lead. Marshawn Lynch touched the ball six times for 28 yards, including a 3-yard run on third-and-2 and a 9-yard reception on third-and-4 – both on second-effort plays. Rookie Alvin Bailey got snaps at left tackle during the drive, with Paul McQuistan sliding to left guard.
The defense then held the Falcons to a four-and-out, as Brandon Browner almost intercepted Matt Ryan’s third-down pass to Roddy White. The Seahawks then drove from the Seattle 7-yard line to the Falcons’ 30, but Russell Wilson was sacked for an 8-yard loss on second and his third-down pass to Ricardo Lockette in the end zone was broken up by Robert Alford.
The Seahawks drove 44 yards in seven plays to a 43-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka to open the second quarter. The big play was another go-up-and-get-it catch by Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard gain on third-and-3. And Kearse did it against former UW teammate Desmond Trufant.
One problem: The Seahawks are dominating this game and the Falcons are one big play from taking the lead. It wasn’t one big play, but three double-digit plays by the Falcons that got Matt Bryant close enough for a 53-yard field goal to get Atlanta on the board with 6:30 left in the half. The 10-play, 45-yard drive included a 14-yard pass to Jason Snelling, a 17-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers and Matt Ryan’s 10-yard scramble up the guy on third-and-9.
Quicker than you could say wait a minute, however, the Seahawks didn’t.
Marshawn Lynch broke a 37-yard run on the first play after the kickoff, thanks to blocks from Michael Robinson and Paul McQuistan and an impressive burst. Russell Wilson then passed to Lynch, who threw back to Wilson, who launched a 43-yard TD pass to Kearse to make it 13-3 with 5:33 left.
After another three-and-out by the defense, Golden Tate took a wide receiver screen and went for 46 yards to the Falcons’ 29 to setup a 44-yard field goal by Hauschka with 1:52 left to make it 16-3.
But the Seahawks lost Browner when he injured a groin on the Falcons’ second play of the quarter and was ruled out. That put Walter Thurmond at right corner in the base defense and Byron Maxwell on the right side in the nickel when Thurmond slid into to cover the slot receiver.
The Seahawks took the second-half kickoff and drove 45 yards in 12 plays to a 53-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. Almost as important as the points that made it 26-3 was the fact that they burned almost half the quarter. Marshawn Lynch carried six times for 32 yards, while Russell Wilson passed 11 yards to Golden Tate on third-and-10.
Hauschka’s field goal was his fourth of the, and 22nd of the season – in 23 attempts. If the Seahawks were playing Monopoly, Hauschka would be the money.
The Falcons then drove 82 yards in 13 plays to Matt Ryan’s fourth-down TD pass to Darius Johnson – a 12-yarder. The drive was kept alive on a dubious personal foul call against Michael Bennett after he was sacked Ryan.
On the 10th play of the final quarter, Lynch got the one thing that eluded him in the first three quarter – a touchdown. It came on a 1-yard run with 8:48 to play, capping a 12-play, 80-yard drive where Lynch eight times for 46 yards – including all three carries after a first-and-goal from the 8.
The Falcons were driving, but Walter Thurmond forced and recovered a fumble to get the ball back. On a third-and-2 play, Thurmond was beaten on a 31-yard completion from Matt Ryan to Harry Douglas. Undaunted, Thurmond ran the play down forced Douglas to fumble and then covered the fumble. Read