That was about as heart wrenching, gut hurting, mentally straining and emotionally draining a football game you will ever get as a Seahawks fan. If you just so happen to be a Falcons fan, it was still all of those – just with a hint of relief at the end.
Seriously, this had to be the most exciting game of these NFL playoffs so far, and I think it’s safe to say fans on both sides are still asking themselves what exactly just happened.
The Seahawks got off to a horrible start. As a matter of fact, that had to be the worst first half this teams played probably all year. The mistakes were never ending, as was the offensive onslaught at the hands of the perennial playoff failure Atlanta Falcons. They looked ready to buck the trend, and the Seahawks seemed content to try and pull off a repeat of last week’s performance in Washington. Only difference, the Falcons were a lot healthier on offense, and a lot hungrier as a team. They came out swinging and the Seattle defense didn’t have an answer. Save for an ineffectual interception by Bobby Wagner. The momentum grab by the Seahawks vanished as quickly as they had snatched it. Marshawn Lynch would fumble the ball only 3 plays later, and that’s not where the mistakes ended for the Seahawks on Sunday.
Richard Sherman, who had just been named to the all-pro team didn’t have an answer for Roddy White in the first half. He may have held him to under 100 yards on the day, which is fantastic really, but in that first half he got lit up. I had been saying all week whoever won this matchup would win the game, and hard to say Roddy didn’t. One play in particular stands out though. Ryan got Chancellor to bite to the left side eye balling the receiver opposite White the entire play; when Chancellor made his move, Ryan made his. He threw a 47 yard bomb to White in the endzone, and Sherman was left behind having tripped on himself. In case you're wondering, yes Sherman chirped him even after getting burned.
Things only seemed to get worse from there. At least for the rest of the first half. They had 2 golden opportunities to put up points before halftime, and questionable play calling followed by a human moment by Russell Wilson killed two drives that should have led to - at the very least - field goals. The first of those two drives was probably the hardest pill to swallow. The Seahawks had taken the ball downfield with a few bombs from Wilson, and eventually found themselves at the Falcons 20. From there it eventually became 3rd and 1.
The obvious move would have been a run with Marshawn Lynch; as we all know too well though, Carroll seems to have a thing for the unconventional and he stuck by his guns on this one. They ran it with Robert Turbin for no gain, then followed that up with a run by fullback Michael Robinson for no gain. That was a turnover on downs, and just heartbreaking to watch. Don’t know what to call out really. Running the ball twice with one yard to go and not using Marshawn Lynch, or not taking the easy 3 points. The real killer, though, Russell Wilson getting sacked with less than five seconds to go with no timeouts left as the half ended. They tried to get a play off, but not only was the snap late but none of the players were set. Another 3 points they should have had, but didn’t get.
Then the second half happened, and oh what I would give to hear the half time speech by one Mr. Pete Carroll. Or maybe Wilson gave it? Wouldn’t catch me off guard. Maybe it was stellar adjustments made by both coordinators? Whatever they did or said during halftime, though, the Seahawks came out a new team. They came out as the dominant team we saw last week in Washington.
They scored on the first drive with a 20 yard strike to Golden Tate, and you could feel the momentum shift. Just a little, but you still felt the Seahawks were starting to get back into it. The Falcons would score on the next drive, but at least the Seahawks defense put up some sort of a fight. Sort of. Then Russell Wilson took over. He led the Seahawks downfield another 3 times, and the Falcons 27-7 lead evaporated. The combination of Russell Wilson and Zach Miller was too much for the Falcons to handle, and with 0:31 left in the game it looked like it was Seattle’s to lose with a 28-27 lead.
All they had to do was keep Atlanta out of field goal range, what could go wrong?
Well, a lot. The Seahawks gave up 41 yards in two plays, and Matt Bryant kicked a 49 yard field goal to send the Falcons to the NFC Championship. The absolute worst part about that Falcons drive though, was that in an attempt to ice the kicker Pete Carroll called a timeout. Bryant kicked the ball regardless of the whistles, and missed. If no timeout had been called, Seattle’s going to San Francisco next week. They got the ball back with great field position, but on the final play of the game Russell Wilson was picked off by of all people Julio Jones on the hail mary. So close, yet so far.
They showed a lot of character, and I think all 2 people who weren’t already in love with Russell Wilson now are, but it still wasn’t enough to win. Wilson’s day was record shattering and it’s a real shame he wasn’t able to get the win, but how can you complain if on the other end it’s Tony Gonzalez’s first playoff win ever? Both teams showed great resiliency, toughness, and heart. They put on the best game of the postseason, and by a country mile. They may not be moving on this year, but these Seahawks have given the entire city something to be excited about anyways. Nobody thought they would get this far and if it weren’t for a few bad bounces they’d be going even further. Better luck next year.
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