Fresh off a much-needed bye week, it was a battle between birds of a different feather as the Seattle Seahawks played host to Matty Ice, Julio Jones, and the rest of the Atlanta Falcons, who boasted the league’s best offense.
It was a pass-happy affair, with Russell Wilson going 25-37 for 270 yards and Matt Ryan going 27-42 for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson, who hurt both of his legs earlier in the season, didn’t look all that hobbled, but his patented scrambles and shoulder spins were virtually non-existent during the game at CenturyLink Field, leading many to wonder just how injured he really is.
With Kam Chancellor out for the day with an injured groin, it was up to the rest of the Legion of Boom to make up for his absence—and make up for his absence they did. In the first half they held the ATLiens to only three points while the Richard Sherman vs Julio Jones matchup went to Sherman after the first two quarters, as Jones only had 24 yards and was relatively quiet.
Matt Ryan, Falcons quarterback and former Boston College Eagle, looked shook as he was sacked four times in the first half. On one of the four sacks, Cliff Avril caused a fumble that led to a Seattle touchdown by the boy named Christine Michael, who finished with two touchdowns and 64 yards.
Yes, it was a terrible first half for the Falcons, who went to the locker room down 3-17 and looking nothing like the league leaders in offense.
But then something happened in the second half. Perhaps the Falcons remembered that they were indeed a great offensive team, and that they indeed had a monster in Julio Jones. Whatever transpired, it worked for Atlanta, as they came out smoking in the second half, starting off the third with a nine play, 75-yard drive that ended in a wide-open touchdown catch for Jones, one of the best wideouts in the universe. The broken Seattle coverage left Richard Sherman inconsolable on the sideline.
On their next two possessions, the Falcons added two more touchdowns for a total of 21 points all in the third quarter. The Seahawks’ defense, which often resembles the persistently pesky “Birds” of Sir Alfred Hitchcock, was left befuddled as Ryan again and again made surgical throws that gave Atlanta a 24-17 lead after three in what was arguably Seattle’s worst quarter of the year.
But Seattle responded in the fourth, taking the lead on Michael’s second TD and later a Steven Hauschka field goal, leaving the score at 24-26 with under two minutes left.
All that stood between the Seahawks and a victory was the gunslinger known as Matty Ice, with his 32 game-winning drives in his corner and the antifreeze coursing through his veins.
It was a spectacular scenario for Ryan, who plays his home games 2600 miles away in Atlanta, facing a two-point deficit against one of the best defenses he’ll ever face and against one of the best home field advantages he’ll ever face. Armed with Julio Jones in his arsenal, it was Ryan’s game to lose.
Going to his man on a 4th and 10, Matty Ice threw a deep middle pass to Jones, but was spectacularly incomplete. Fans in Atlanta are surely crying foul as Sherman probably-but-maybe-did-or-did-not commit a pass interference by grabbing Jones’ waist, twisting him and thus affecting his catch.
Nevertheless, the zebras kept their flags and the dub went to the birds of the Northwest, the Seattle Seahawks, who are now 4-1 (and 3-0 since SEATTLEITE began coverage, just saying) and are looking like the team we all thought they would be.
The Seahawks are away next week as they take on a different bird, the 2-3 division rival Arizona Cardinals in a city with a bird name, Phoenix.