Ouch. The Seattle Seahawks are now 6-4 on the year after a gut-wrenching 34-31 loss to the 6-4 Atlanta Falcons, who essentially saved their season and denied Seattle first-place in the NFC West. Costly penalties, bad third down defense, and two critical turnovers were among the many reasons the Seahawks lost this game, and Blair Walsh’s shot at major redemption came up just short. This season now very much hangs in the balance thanks to Atlanta owning the tiebreaker on Seattle.
Blair Walsh had to make a touchdown-saving play on Andre Roberts to start the game, as Roberts took advantage of poor kick coverage and was stopped just short of midfield. After a couple of first downs, Jeremy Lane pass interference put the Falcons at the 1, and Tevin Coleman punched it in on the next play. 7-0 Falcons.
Tyler Lockett responded with his own big kick return, which put the Seahawks at Atlanta’s 40. It didn’t matter, as Russell Wilson was picked off on a terrible throw to Desmond Trufant. Next thing you know, Atlanta is at Seattle’s 35, and it would’ve been a pick-6 if not for Wilson’s outstanding tackle. Jeremy Lane and about 40 other Seahawks dropped a surefire interception right at the goal line, and were made to pay as Mohamed Sanu made an outrageous one-handed catch for a touchdown, beating Justin Coleman. 14-0 Falcons.
In desperate need of a spark, Mike Davis ripped off a couple of impressive runs, and Russell Wilson made some good throws to get the Sehaawks into the red zone. A third-down conversion to Tyler Lockett was wiped out by an Ethan Pocic holding penalty, but a tripping penalty on Atlanta on 3rd and 14 gave the Seahawks a new set of downs. Jimmy Graham boxed out DeVondre Campbell for the touchdown, his seventh of the season. 14-7 Falcons.
<Insert every basketball analogy for Jimmy Graham on this touchdown.>#Seahawks #SEAvsATL pic.twitter.com/XopovScpfn— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 21, 2017
Seattle’s defense finally stopped the Falcons offense on third down, as Neiko Thorpe broke up what would’ve been a great catch by Justin Hardy to end the quarter.
So much for the defensive stop, because Germain Ifedi got beaten like a drum, and Russell Wilson was stripped of the ball on Takk McKinley’s sack, and Adrian Clayborn scooped and scored. 21-7 Falcons.
A 20-yard screen pass to Mike Davis was one of the top moments on Seattle’s ensuing possession, which came up just short of a touchdown on two occasions. Jimmy Graham got leveled just inches short of the end zone, and it didn’t matter as there was offensive pass interference on Tyler Lockett. Wilson nearly made a magical play happen on a scramble, but Graham couldn’t hold on. Blair Walsh split the uprights to cut into the deficit. 21-10 Falcons.
Seattle got the ball back immediately thanks to some farcical special teams by the Falcons. A short kickoff to about the Atlanta 15 was fumbled on the scoop by Andre Roberts, and Tedric Thompson was there for the recovery. Seattle got to the 1-yard line (off a generous and bad spot on a Jimmy Graham catch) and made a total hash of it on the ensuing three plays. Luckily, Russell Wilson rolled out and strolled in for a TD on 4th and goal. 21-17 Falcons.
The #Seahawks run a designed sprint-out play for Russell Wilson and instead of forcing the ball to a covered WR, he runs it in himself. Down by only 4 now after a key special teams turnover. #SEAvsATL pic.twitter.com/8rgTGNHHNs— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 21, 2017
Rather annoyingly, the Falcons’ field goal to go up 24-17 was spurred on by a pass interference on Byron Maxwell, a 3rd and 15 conversion by Tevin Coleman, and a deep throw to Mohamed Sanu over Jeremy Lane. The defensive stand once Atlanta was inside the 30 was nevertheless impressive.
Tyler Lockett ripped off another huge kick return to his own 42, and the Seahawks were in business to put points on the board at halftime. Russell Wilson juked out Vic Beasley for a big run to place the Seahawks in field goal range, and then uh... they ran a fake with :07 left. It did not work. What stupidity. What in the f—k was that?
Another nice screen pass to Mike Davis, as well as a Robert Alford pass interference put Seattle deep into Falcons territory, but a sack essentially killed chances of a touchdown. They didn’t fake the field goal on this occasion. 24-20 Falcons.
A 3rd and 8 run by Matt Ryan extended Atlanta’s drive, and Levine Toilolo broke free on a well-done route a couple of snaps later for a touchdown. Terence Garvin was lost in coverage and Earl Thomas was late to arrive. 31-20 Falcons.
Seattle responded with another field goal, and Russell Wilson made it possible with a remarkable 3rd and 12 run for a first down. Unfortunately, he incurred a sack, so instead of anywhere from 31-26 to 31-28, Seattle had to settle for 31-23 Falcons.
Crucially, the Seahawks prevented Atlanta from scoring on the next drive, even though the Falcons marched towards field goal range. A couple of tackles for losses by Michael Bennett and Bobby Wagner respectively, followed by a false start penalty made Dan Quinn punt from Seattle’s 38. Seattle wasted the defense’s efforts by going three-and-out, including an uncharacteristic 3rd down drop by Doug Baldwin. Pete Carroll stupidly challenged it and lost, so that left Seattle with one timeout.
The defense had been giving up third down conversions all night long, and Jeremy Lane was burned by Julio Jones on a 3rd and 8, Terron Ward ripped off a hard-nosed run to set up shop at the Atlanta 6. Tevin Coleman thought he had a touchdown, but he was inches short. Atlanta took a delay of game to run more clock out, then Matt Bryant made the 19-yard chipshot. 34-23 Falcons with 3:49 to go.
It took only 49 seconds for the Seahawks to get into the end zone, as Doug Baldwin got wiiiiide open on a free play and took advantage of bad Atlanta defense. Robert Alford pretty much just stopped defending the route altogether. The two-point conversion to Graham was easy, and Seattle cut the scoreline to 34-31 with 3:00 to play.
Seattle opted to kick it deep, backing the Falcons up inside their own 20. Two runs by Tevin Coleman set up 3rd and 3. Atlanta was 9-of-13 on third downs heading into this game-deciding play, and after not having a semblance of a pass rush all night, Sheldon Richardson sacked Ryan to force a punt. Tyler Lockett got belted at his own 35, and a penalty by Josh Forrest meant the Seahawks had to start their game-tying or game-winning drive at their 25.
Jimmy Graham gained 11 yards on the first play and immediately came out of the game due to injury. Next pass was incomplete, 2nd and 10 was a free play due to offsides, but Wilson’s deep ball to Doug Baldwin was incomplete. 2nd and 5, Graham returned and couldn’t corral the throw, as Desmond Trufant had tight coverage. 3rd and 5 at their own 41, Wilson scrambled for a first down to get into Atlanta territory. Jimmy Grhaam got to the Atlanta 44 on a short pass, but inbounds. JD McKissic only gained 2 on the next play, also inbounds, but an Atlanta injury stopped the clock with :21 to go. Paul Richardson caught a first down at the 35, Wilson spiked it with :07 left, and the Falcons burned a timeout because Seattle wanted to run another play. Blair Walsh came onto the field after the timeout, and his 52-yard field goal was short. Ballgame.
Seahawks injury report
Shaquill Griffin was concussed on the second play of the game, and was replaced by Byron Maxwell.
Mike Davis injured his groin in the 3rd quarter and did not return.
Oday Aboushi exited the game in the 4th quarter and was replaced by Mark Glowinski. He reportedly suffered a shoulder injury.
Next week’s game
Seattle travels to San Francisco to play the 49ers on Sunday, November 26th at 1:05 PM PT on FOX.