The Seattle Seahawks almost came back from an 11-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, but the Atlanta Falcons held them off and climbed into the second wild card spot Monday night with a 34-31 win.
Atlanta improved to 6-4, tying the record of the Seahawks and the Lions — each of whom now have a loss to the Falcons.
The win didn’t come without drama, though. Atlanta had an 11-point lead with about four minutes left and just barely did enough to hold off Seattle’s attempt to come back.
Here’s how it all went down:
Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu dunked on the Seahawks secondary early
Atlanta jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to a quick touchdown drive to start, an awful Russell Wilson interception, and the combination of Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu both going into Terminator mode.
On the Falcons’ second drive of the game, Jones made a ridiculous play on the sideline:
That was followed by Sanu making a highlight reel catch of his own for a touchdown:
The Seahawks lost Richard Sherman for the year last week and possibly Kam Chancellor too. Then early Monday night, Shaquill Griffin was lost early to a head injury.
Shutting down opposing pass games has been a staple of the Seattle defense for a long time, but that might be difficult down the stretch after so many injuries. All things considered, the Seahawks did all right against Jones and Sanu after the rough start.
Tyler Lockett couldn’t be stopped
A big boost for the Seahawks offense was its consistently great field position thanks to the third-year kick returner. He never housed a kickoff and still managed to average 39 yards on five returns.
You’re going to have to do better than that, Matt Bosher.
The Seahawks had some egregious, costly errors
Seattle’s offense did just fine, and both teams made big mistakes. The Falcons even whiffed on picking up a kickoff return, but it was Seattle that made more costly errors.
After digging out of a 14-0 hole with a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks got the ball back with a chance to tie. Instead, the lead went back to 14 when Germain Ifedi was torched by Takkarist McKinley, who helped force a fumble.
Adrian Clayborn was the Falcons’ star in Week 10 with six sacks, but he was just in the right place at the right time on this fumble recovery.
A botched fake field goal loomed large
Speaking of big mistakes, the Seahawks also had a chance to go to halftime down 24-20 but did one of the most laughably awful fake field goals instead.
At the time, it left Seattle down 24-17, but those three points suddenly mattered a lot when the Falcons kicked a field goal to go up 34-23 in the final minutes of the game. The Seahawks quickly responded with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Maybe Atlanta would’ve handled things differently if it had a five-point lead instead of an eight-point one, but the Seahawks have to wish they could take back the call for a fake.
Russell Wilson did everything for Seattle, as usual
The Seahawks quarterback entered the night as the team’s leading rusher on the season and widened that gap with more rushing yards than the trio of J.D. McKissic, Eddie Lacy and Mike Davis combined.
When McKissic and Lacy couldn’t get into the end zone near the goal line, Wilson just went ahead and did it himself on fourth down:
Wilson is already on pace to be responsible for a record percentage of a team’s offense, and he pushed that number even higher Monday.
With the Seahawks defense struggling to play up to its usual standard, Wilson just barely couldn’t do enough to put the team on his back for a win.
Blair Walsh had a chance to tie it up
The Seahawks kicker has had some great moments and some truly awful ones. A 51-yard field goal was a chance to be a hero and he came up just barely short.
While Walsh didn’t make the kick, it’s hard to pin the blame on him. Especially when the Seahawks had a chance to give him a 34-yard try before halftime and passed.