1:00 PM ET, November 10, 2013
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
ATLANTA -- Now that's more like it for the Seattle Seahawks.
Shaking off some sluggish performances, the Seahawks put it all together against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
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"It's the best game we've played," coach Pete Carroll said.
The first-place Seahawks (9-1 for the first time in franchise history), who lead the NFC race for home field, had looked especially vulnerable the past two weeks while struggling to beat lowly St. Louis and winless Tampa Bay.
No worries this time. It was over by halftime.
With a lightning-quick spurt at the end of the second quarter, capped by Wilson's touchdown pass to Golden Tate with 1 second remaining, Seattle went to the break with a 23-3 lead.
"We're excited for the future. We have something special," Tate said. "Now we've set the standard and we want to consistently play this sort of ballgame."
The Falcons trailed 6-3 after Matt Bryant's 53-yard field goal with 6½ minutes left in the half, but Seattle seized control with three big plays in a row, including a bit of trickery that caught Atlanta off guard.
With the Seahawks starting at their 20 after a touchback, Lynch immediately broke off a 37-yard run into Falcons territory. On the next play, Wilson handed off to Lynch, who passed the ball back to the quarterback.
After the Falcons went three-and-out, Wilson hooked up with Tate on a short pass that turned into a 46-yard gain. So, on three consecutive snaps, Seattle ripped off 126 yards.
Tate's reception led to the third of Steven Hauschka's four field goals. Atlanta went three-and-out again, and Tate set up another scoring chance with a 32-yard punt return in front of the Seahawks bench.
In the final minute of the half, Wilson drove Seattle down the field for the decisive score. It took a gutsy call by Carroll, who decided to take a shot at the end zone on third-and-5 from the Atlanta 6 with 8 seconds remaining and no timeouts.
Wilson lofted the pass into the left corner, and Tate made a brilliant one-handed catch while managing to drag both feet inside the line, just in the nick of time.
The Falcons (2-7) lost for the sixth time in seven games, a team that once had Super Bowl aspirations now just two defeats away from its first losing season since 2007.
Matt Ryan was held to 172 yards passing, while Steven Jackson managed just 11 yards rushing on nine carries. Roddy White returned to the Falcons' lineup after missing the past month with ankle and hamstring injuries, but one catch for 20 yards hardly sparked the offense. Seattle finished with a dominating 490-226 lead in total yards.
"It was tough sledding out there," White said. "Not how we wanted it to go."
This was a complete reversal of the playoff game last January, in which Atlanta led 20-0 at the half and was still up by 20 early in the fourth before Wilson led what appeared to be a historic comeback, putting the Seahawks ahead 28-27 with less than a minute remaining.
The Falcons bounced back with two long passes and Bryant's field goal for a 30-28 victory that sent Atlanta to the NFC Championship Game.
That game seems so long ago.
These Falcons finally scored a touchdown -- just their third in the past three games -- late in the third quarter on Ryan's 12-yard pass to rookie Darius Johnson on fourth down. The Seahawks wrapped it up with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that took more than 7 minutes off the clock. Lynch, appropriately, finished it off with a 1-yard touchdown run that sent what remained of the Georgia Dome crowd hustling to the exits.
The rest hung around to cheer for the Seahawks.
Tate finished with 106 yards on six receptions. ... Seattle CB Brandon Browner (groin) left in the second quarter. DT Tony McDaniel (hamstring) left in the third quarter. Neither returned. ... The Falcons played again without OT Sam Baker (knee), who missed his fifth game of an injury plagued season. ... Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez extended his streak to 204 games with at least one catch when he hauled in a 9-yard pass in the third quarter. ... After the game, the soon-to-be-retired Gonzalez swapped jerseys with Seahawks CB Richard Sherman.
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 10: Jermaine Kearse #15 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch for a touchdown against...(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||7.1||4.2|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-2||1-1|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||7:37||Steven Hauschka 39 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 11 plays, 48 yds, 5:58
|FG||11:58||Steven Hauschka 43 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 34 yds, 2:56
|FG||6:37||Matt Bryant 53 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 10 plays, 45 yds, 5:23
|TD||5:33||Jermaine Kearse 43 Yard Pass From Russell Wilson (Steven Hauschka Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 80 yds, 0:57
|FG||1:56||Steven Hauschka 44 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 5 plays, 49 yds, 2:01
|TD||0:08||Golden Tate 6 Yard Pass From Russell Wilson (Steven Hauschka Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 60 yds, 1:02
|FG||7:55||Steven Hauschka 53 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 12 plays, 45 yds, 7:11
|TD||1:07||Darius Johnson 12 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 82 yds, 6:47
|TD||8:54||Marshawn Lynch 1 Yard Run (Steven Hauschka Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 7:14
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 145 yards Sunday, 70 of which came after contact. Lynch gained 70 yards after contact for only the third time as a Seahawk, and entered Sunday averaging 35.4 rush yards after contact per game this season.
Golden Tate had six catches and a touchdown Sunday, posting career highs with 106 receiving yards and five first downs. Tate caught 4-of-5 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown when the Falcons sent at least five rushers after Russell Wilson. Wilson finished the day 9-of-12 for 164 yards and two touchdowns against the Atlanta blitz, posting the second-best completion percentage of his career against the blitz (minimum 10 attempts).
After getting pummeled in the first half of last year's divisional playoff game against the Falcons, the Seahawks came to play in the first half today.[+]
Seahawks 1st Half vs Falcons - Last 2 Seasons (Including Playoffs)
Russell Wilson has been sacked or put under duress on 40% of his dropbacks this season, the highest percentage for any QB in the last five seasons. Wilson has completed 50.0 percent of his passes with four of his six interceptions when under duress this season.[+]
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