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Highlights from the Falcons’ victory over the Seahawks

Atlanta escaped with a narrow victory.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Final: Falcons 34, Seahawks 31

The last drive for the Seahawks, like most of the game, was the Russell Wilson show. Wilson tried to find open receivers but instead opted for big rushes to get the job done. With seven seconds left on the opposing 33-yard line, Seattle took a timeout and let Blair Walsh kick it.

It didn’t go well. Seattle was this close.

Fourth quarter

Falcons 34, Seahawks 31 We have ourselves a close game! In less than a minute, Russell Wilson went the distance and got himself a touchdown pass, thanks to Doug Baldwin.

Falcons 34, Seahawks 23 Tevin Coleman was so close to finding the end zone for a second time tonight. Unfortunately, the ruling on the field was reversed. On 4th and goal, the Falcons killed some of the clock and padded their lead with a short field goal.

Third quarter

Falcons 31, Seahawks 23 Blair Walsh successfully makes a 46-yard field goal after a Paul Richardson catch on 3rd and 22 is incomplete.

Falcons 31, Seahawks 20 The Seahawks’ defense has been depleted and Matt Ryan took advantage of that in the middle of the third with a 25-yard pass to a wide open Levine Toilolo for a touchdown.

Second quarter

Lockett broke off yet another huge kick return and gave the Seahwks a chance to get trim the deficit before the half. However, they ran a fake field goal that the Falcons defense immediately stuffed, leaving Seattle with no points on the drive.

Falcons 24, Seahawks 17 The Falcons barely touched the ball in the second quarter, but Ryan drove them deep into scoring position at the two-minute warning. The drive stalled out and Matt Bryant made a 44-yard field goal, making it a seven-point lead for Atlanta.

Falcons 21, Seahawks 17 A terrible mistake by the Falcons led to them muffing the kickoff, giving the Seahawks the ball back at Atlanta’s 11-yard line. Graham converted a first down at the 1, though Eddie Lacy failed to get it in on third down. Seattle went for it on fourth and goal and Wilson ran it in himself.

Falcons 21, Seahawks 10 Mike Davis, the latest running back to get a shot in Seattle’s backfield, took a screen pass 20 yards inside the red zone. Wilson hit Graham at the 7-yard line, then Lockett at the 4. Graham caught a slant at the 1, but Keanu Neal blasted him before he could cross the plane.

It didn’t end up mattering because offensive pass interference nullified the play. Seattle settled for the 30-yard field goal.

Falcons 21, Seahawks 7 Disaster struck for the Seahawks yet again when Wilson got strip-sacked by Takk McKinely. Adrian Clayborn scooped and scored to silence the CenturyLink Field crowd again.

First quarter: Falcons 14, Seahawks 7

Seattle’s defense finally got a stop on third down at the end of the quarter, forcing the Falcons to punt after the break.

Falcons 14, Seahawks 7 The offense got back on track and finished off an impressive drive when Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for a 4-yard touchdown.

Wilson recovered from the turnover and marched Seattle’s offesne straight into the red zone. A holding call pushed them back, but a Falcons defender got flagged for tripping, giving Seattle a first down.

Falcons 14, Seahwks 0 Atlanta receivers just keep coming up with crazy catches this game. Mohamed Sanu pulled down a one-hander in the end zone to extend the Falcons’ lead.

Julio Jones made this sick catch to get the Falcons closer to field position.

Seattle couldn't take advantage of the field position when Wilson’s pass got tipped and picked by Desmond Trufant, returning it deep into Seahawks territory.

Tyler Lockett finally broke free on a kick return, setting up Russell Wilson at the Falcons’ 40-yard line. Atlanta’s kicker also ate the turf in the process.

Falcons 7, Seahawks 0 A pass interference call got the Falcons to the goal line and Tevin Coleman punched it in to finish Atlanta’s opening drive.

Andre Holmes started off with a great kickoff return that got the Falcons near midfield. The Seahawks suffered another sdefensive injury when cornerback Shaq Griffin was helped off the field.

Before the game

The Seattle Seahawks (6-3) limp into Week 11 trying to pick up the pieces after a brutal, injury-ravaged game last week. They travel on the road to face the Atlanta Falcons (5-4) Monday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (live stream at WatchESPN).

The Seahawks managed a 22-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals last Thursday night in Week 10, but it sure felt like a loss with the Legion of Boom core succumbing to injury. The worst loss is All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who tore his Achilles and is done for the year. Kam Chancellor also suffered a stinger and isn’t expected to play.

Even the offensive side wasn’t spared, with left tackle Duane Brown picking up an ankle injury and questionable to play this week. After being acquired from the Houston Texans to shore up Seattle’s blind spot, Brown lasted all of a quarter and a half before getting hurt. It’s been that kind of year for the Seahawks.

On the bright side, Earl Thomas is back after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Russell Wilson continues to play at a high level, and could get some more MVP hype if he keeps leading the Seahawks to wins while the rest of the team falls apart around him.

The Falcons are a little hard to figure out this year. They sit at 5-3, but have lost four of their last six games to squander a 3-0 start. Matt Ryan has taken a step back from last year’s MVP campaign, throwing just 13 touchdowns to eight interceptions in nine games. Devonta Freeman is out with a concussion and could end up missing more games.

Despite those concerns, the Falcons are above .500 partly thanks to a strong defense, which is 10th-best in the league in points allowed per game and seventh in yards allowed. Adrian Clayborn feasted on the Dallas Cowboys’ makeshift offensive line last week, dominating poor backup left tackle Chaz Green on the way to a six-sack game. To illustrate how big a game it was, Clayborn hasn’t reached six sacks in a season since 2013. He rightfully won NFC Defensive Player of the Year.

With the Seahawks’ secondary in shambles, this would be a perfect game for Julio Jones to get back on track. He’s topped 100 yards only two times this season and has just one touchdown in nine games. Sherman’s absence is destined to have a ripple effect on the rest of the defense, so the Falcons will be wise to get Jones going early.

With both teams falling behind in their respective division races, this game could have important playoff implications with a head-to-head tiebreaker at stake. The Seahawks and Falcons should be among the best teams in the NFC, but they’re locked in a battle of attrition at the halfway point. This game could tell us a lot about each team’s trajectory down the stretch.

Pregame reading

With Sherman, it was still one of the NFL’s best defenses but not quite the one with the kind of ferocity that carried the Seahawks to the playoffs in five straight years. Any hope of returning to that form ended Thursday when Sherman limped off the field.

  • After the injury apocalypse, Doug Baldwin said Thursday Night Football should be illegal. We agree.

It’s time to pull the plug on Thursday Night Football. The networks should press for that when they have the chance, but there’s always another entity willing to swoop in and grab it. Our best hope to end it lies with the players in the next round of collective bargaining talks. It still puts the players in a tough spot. Owners might be willing to concede their Thursday night ATM instead of, say, sharing more of the overall revenue with players.

Wilson currently leads the NFL in pass attempts and yards and is in the top 10 of TD%, Y/A, ANY/A, and passer rating. And he is doing with a run game ranked 19th in yards and 23rd in yards per carry. Oh and Wilson is currently the Seahawks’ leading rushing by yardage and attempts. However, he has not received much MVP buzz due to a slow start, and other, “more compelling” storylines such as a recent second overall pick playing behind a top-five offensive line with a top defense putting up impressive numbers, or a first overall pick with one of the strongest collections of offensive weapons throwing deep for the first time in his career, or a QB in his twilight years putting up numbers essentially in line with his last 3-4 years under the tutelage of the best coach in the NFL.

While these might be fun stories to feed into the NFL narrative machine, none of these players are as valuable to their teams as Wilson is to his.

  • With Freeman out, the Falcons need Tevin Coleman to step up as the new lead back.

I understand and respect that you have to make the defense respect the run, and you want to bang between the tackles whenever you can. But Coleman’s truly elite speed, improving vision, and ability to make a cut and leave a defense in the dust means the Falcons are better off trying to get him outside and into space as often as possible. Runs inside, particularly when both Andy Levitre and Wes Schweitzer have been struggling with their run blocking in recent weeks, are not the best use of Coleman’s skill set.

  • The Falcoholic notes how successful Ryan’s been against the blitz this year.

Matt Ryan is quietly building a very good year, albeit one that isn’t good enough on the surface to garner many votes for a second straight MVP award. The important thing, though, is that he’s playing well enough to win these Falcons games, and they need to win a lot of games coming up here.

One of the ways Ryan has been able to find success this year is when teams blitz him. Part of that is strong pass protection (though not always), and part of it is his innate ability to make defenses pay for leaving guys open. So far this year, he’s the third best quarterback in the NFL when opposing defenses blitz, behind the always great Russell Wilson and the suddenly good Jared Goff.