The Atlanta Falcons took their fans on a roller coaster ride during an epic game before delivering the first playoff victory of the Matt Ryan-Mike Smith era at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, winning 30-28 after taking the lead in the game's final seconds.
The Falcons did little wrong in the first half, hammering the Seattle Seahawks 20 to 0 with strong execution in both the running and passing game while the team's defense seemed to leave the Seahawks dazed and confused. The Falcons scored on their first possession after winning the coin toss, a 39-yard field goal by Matt Bryant, and scored a touchdown on a Tony Gonzalez tip-toeing catch at the back of the end zone towards the end of the first quarter.
Later in the first half, Matt Bryant kicked his second field goal from 37 yards out. Then, with just over four minutes left until halftime, Matt Ryan connected on a huge 47-yard pass for a touchdown to Roddy White following a Michael Turner's explosive 33-yard dash. The half ended with a bumbling, panicked Seattle team trying and failing to get a snap off at the Falcons 11-yard line as time expired. The team was in easy field goal range, but because of quarterback Russell Wilson's poor execution and clock management, failed to put points on the board as time expired.
This was the second time in the first half that the Seahawks failed to convert easy points from the Falcons 11-yard line. With 5:33 to go in the second quarter trailing 13 to nothing, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll chose to go for it on fourth and 1 at the Falcons 11. Seahawks running back Michael Robinson, in his only carry of the day, was shut down losing one yard (Robinson only carried the ball 12 times for 49 yards all season).
In the game's second half, Seattle dominated as they marched up and down the field seemingly at will, alternating between Wilson's huge runs and passes. He finished the day with 385 yards passing and 60 yards rushing, breaking team's postseason passing record. Seattle's final score came with less than minute left in the game as running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for a two-yard touchdown, with the extra point giving Seattle a one-point lead. After Seattle's score, a dour-looking Arthur Blank - dressed in a dapper all-red sports jacket - seemed to appear out of nowhere as he marched up and down the sidelines.
But not all was lost. After a 34-yard kickoff return by Falcons running back Jacquizz Rogers, Ryan took over with 31 seconds left in the game and the Falcons trailing by one point. He quickly converted the next two pass plays, the second being a 19-yard throw to tight end Tony Gonzalez, who broke several tackles to get Atlanta just inside field goal range, which set up a 49-yard field goal attempt. Bryant had two tries at the field goal after his first missed attempt was waved off following a timeout called by Carroll in an attempt to ice the Falcons kicker. He made the second attempt, launching the crowd into a frenzy.
All seemed to be over with only six seconds left and the Falcons ahead 30-28. But on the ensuing kickoff, punter Matt Bosher, accidentally squibbed the kick, which Seattle recovered with eight seconds remaining. Coach Mike Smith admitted the mistake in his postgame news conference, saying that they were trying avoid kicking it to Seattle's return man, but accidentally squibbing it too short. Nevertheless, Seattle was unable to capitalize with only seconds as they ran two plays. With the crowd holding their breath, the game ended with a hail mary pass that was intercepted by wide receiver Julio Jones in the end zone, who was playing defense for the Falcons on the game's final play.
And with that the stadium erupted. The Falcons will face the San Francisco 49ers next weekend at the Georgia Dome. If they win, the team will head to the Super Bowl in New Orleans on February 3.
More photos from the Falcons victory
Ha, a library with very few "traditional library services"--great idea, if you are an architect…
@ Roxanne Dimacale
Hi, We're looking for kidney donors, Very urgently. B+ve , O+ve, O+ and A+ve with…
Thought-provoking piece ! I was enlightened by the points . Does someone know where I…
In Dec. of 2014 I was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 39…