The Seahawks’ season ended in disappointment Sunday in a 30-28 loss to the Falcons, one step short of the NFC Championship game. But rookie QB Russell Wilson emerged encouraged about the future.
By Clare Farnsworth
ATLANTA – As Russell Wilson was making his way to the tunnel at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, wading through the sea of frustration and disappointment swirling around him, the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback wasn’t thinking so much about what might have been as what is to come.
Yes, the Seahawks had rallied to take a 28-27 lead over the Atlanta Falcons with 31 seconds left in their divisional playoff game. Yes, they had just as quickly lost that lead as the Falcons’ Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with eight seconds to play, giving the Falcons a 30-28 victory and a berth in next Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.
“When the game was over, I was very disappointed,” Wilson said. “But right before I got back to the tunnel, I got so excited for the next opportunity next year. I’m looking forward to what we have in the future. We have a great football team.”
But for now, disappointment ruled the day – on a day when the Seahawks fell behind 20-0 in the first half and then rode their rookie QB to a 28-point second half.
Wilson passed for a career-high 385 yards while completing 24 of 36 passes. He threw for two touchdowns, ran for a third and got the Seahawks in position for what appeared to be the game-winner – Marshawn Lynch’s 2-yard TD run so late in the fourth quarter.
“We made some great plays coming back,” Wilson said. “That resiliency we showed was unbelievable. But that’s what we’re all about.”
While the Seahawks were flaunting their resiliency, it was the Falcons who found a way to prevail in the end. Matt Ryan passed for three touchdowns in winning his first postseason game, after losing in his first three tries. He also passed the Falcons into position for Bryant’s game-winner.
“It was real exciting for the whole comeback, and then really a letdown,” tight end Zach Miller said. “It was fun for a while and then really disappointing.”
Rather than bask in the what-could-have-been of this game, the offense couldn’t overcome the what-wasn’t. The Seahawks had the ball at the Falcons 11- and 6-yard line in the first half, but came away with frustration rather than points.
“It’s a pretty tough one to get over,” All-Pro center Max Unger said. “It’s going to be a long offseason thinking about this one. We put ourselves in that hole on offense, definitely. That was kind of our downfall. This is totally on the offense.”
It didn’t sit too well with the defense either, as the All-Pro duo of cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas declined comment, as did linebacker K.J. Wright.
But once the disappointment of how this game ultimately ended subsides – if that’s possible – there was a lot to like about the way the Seahawks did not give up.
Despite damaging the plantar fasciitis in his foot in the first quarter, Miller returned to catch eight passes for 142 yards and one of Wilson’s TD passes. Golden Tate had six catches for 103 yards and Wilson’s other TD.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and Thomas intercepted Ryan passes, while Wagner and Wright each had eight tackles.
“Anybody watching this game who knows football knows that was an unbelievable comeback.”
One that has Wilson eager to comeback as quickly as possible and start building for next season.
|Total Net Yards||491|
|Time of Possession||28:47|
|Total Net Yards||417|
|Time of Possession||31:13|
In a nutshell: Falcons 10, Seahawks 0. The Falcons took the opening kickoff and drove 54 yards in 11 plays to a 39-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. It appeared the Falcons would score a touchdown, by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman closed quickly to tip away a Matt Ryan pass to Roddy White in
the end zone on third-and-3. The Falcons then capitalized on a Marshawn Lynch fumble to drive 61 yards in eight plays to Ryan’s 1-yard TD pass to Tony Gonzalez to make it 10-0 with 3:10 left. Ryan hit his final three throws on the drive for 33 yards.
Player of the quarter: Gonzalez. Coach Pete Carroll was concerned about containing the Falcons’ Pro Bowl tight end, and for good reason. Gonzalez beat linebacker Leroy Hill on 16-yard completion to setup the Falcons’ TD, then scored it by beating strong safety Kam Chancellor in the back of the end zone.
Play of the quarter: Lynch’s fumble. It wasted an interception by rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, and set up the Falcons’ TD. Lynch also fumbled at the 2 in last week’s game against the Redskins.
Number of the quarter: 0. The Seahawks went scoreless in the first quarter for the second consecutive week.
In a nutshell: Falcons 20, Seahawks 0. The Falcons ran their lead to 13-0 on a 37-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 9:13 left in the half. The kick capped an 11-play, 68-yard drive that began in the first quarter with a 45-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers to the Seahawks’ 42. The Seahawks then drove to the Falcons’ 11, as Russell Wilson and tight end Zach Miller hooked up on a drive-opening 34-yard completion to the 36. But Robert Turbin was stopped for no gain on third-and-1 – from a three-wide, shotgun formation – and fullback Michael Robinson lost 1 yard on the fourth-down carry. The Falcons struck quickly, as Roddy White beat Richard Sherman to make a falling grab of a 47-yard pass in the end zone to cap a three-play, 88-yard drive that made it 20-0 with 4:16 left in the half. The Seahawks drove to the Falcons 6 in the closing seconds, but Wilson was sacked on third down and the clock ran out before they could snap the ball on fourth down.
Player of the quarter: Miller. The Seahawks’ tight end caught three passes for 63 yards, which was about all the Seahawks did right in the first half.
Play of the quarter: White’s TD catch. It was reviewed, but there was no question it was good. Honorable mention to the 33-yard run by Michael Turner on the drive to White’s catch.
Number of the quarter: Countless. The number of tackles the Seahawks missed in the first half.
In a nutshell: Falcons 27, Seahawks 7. The Seahawks took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards in nine plays to Russell Wilson’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. Wilson also ran for 17 yards and 2 yards, on third-and-1; and passed 19 yards to tight end Zach Miller in the drive. But – and you knew this was coming – the Falcons came right back to chew up half the quarter with a 14-play, 80-yard drive to Matt Ryan’s 5-yard shovel pass to Jason Snelling for a touchdown that made it 27-7 with 2:11 left. The Seahawks had the ball on the Falcons’ 13 as the quarter ended.
Player of the quarter: Ryan. He was 8 of 10 for 70 yards in the TD drive, as the Falcons converted on third-and-5 and third-and-9.
Play of the quarter: Wilson’s TD pass to Tate. It got the Seahawks on the board, but also had style points as Tate took a shot at the 6-yard line and still got into the end zone.
Number of the quarter: Five. The number of receivers who caught Ryan passes during the Falcons’ TD drive.
In a nutshell: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28. The Seahawks made it 27-14 on the fifth play of the quarter as Russell Wilson faked a handoff to Marshawn Lynch on second-and-goal, rolled to his left and ran into the end zone. The 1-yard run capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive that began in the third quarter and featured Wilson’s 24-yard pass to Golden Tate and a 26-yarder to Zach Miller. The Seahawks got the ball back when All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas intercepted Matt Ryan’s pass that was intended for Roddy White at the Seahawks’ 38. And, wait for it … Wilson then led the Seahawks on a four-play, 62-yard drive that took less than two minutes and ended with his 3-yard TD pass to Miller to make it 27-21. Wilson was 3 of 3 for 57 yards on the drive. The Seahawks then tied the score on a 2-yard TD run with 31 second left, and took the lead on Ryan Longwell’s PAT. But the Falcons’ Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with eight seconds left.
Player of the quarter: Wilson. Sure, the Seahawks lost. But the rookie QB was just short of perfect in leading the second-half comeback.
Play of the quarter: Bryant’s game winner, which followed 22- and 19-yard completions.
Number of the quarter: Two. The difference between the Seahawks going to the NFC Championship game and the Falcons hosting it.