Russell Wilson did all he could, but the Atlanta Falcons took advantage of the short-handed Seattle Seahawks for a 34-31 victory at CenturyLink Field on Monday.
The Seahawks (6-4) had won 11 straight games on Monday, the second-longest streak in NFL history. They have also been one of the most difficult teams to beat in Seattle, but have now lost their last two home games.
After the Falcons (6-4) grabbed a 34-23 lead with three minutes, 49 seconds remaining, Wilson quickly drove the Seahawks downfield to pull within three on a perfect 29-yard pass to Doug Baldwin, who ran right by Falcons cornerback Robert Alford.
Wilson then got the Seahawks in range for a 52-yard field goal try, but Blair Walsh was just short on the potential game-tying kick.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also made some questionable decisions. He challenged an obvious incomplete pass to Baldwin early in the fourth quarter, and lost the challenge. The biggest headscratcher came on a fake field goal attempt before half-time. Instead of kicking a 34-yard field goal, the Seahawks tried a short pass to Luke Willson that was snuffed out by defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
Those three points proved to be big and Jarrett played well the entire night, recording a sack, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.
THE LEGION OF BOOM IS NO MORE
The Seahawks were already playing without cornerback Richard Sherman, out for the year with a torn Achilles, and safety Kam Chancellor, who has a neck injury. Sherman's replacement, rookie Shaquill Griffin, then left early in the first quarter with a concussion. Even with an injury-depleted secondary, the Seahawks played the Falcons tough. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was 19 of 27 for 195 yards and two touchdowns as he saw his NFL-record streak of 64 consecutive games with at least 200 passing yards come to an end.
Even when the Seahawks had tight coverage, the Falcons receivers were still able to catch the ball – like Mohamed Sanu's one-handed grab for a two-yard touchdown that gave Atlanta an early 14-0 lead.
SEATTLE'S OFFENSIVE LINE STILL HAS ISSUES
The Seahawks tried to help their line issues by acquiring Pro Bowl tackle Duane Brown from the Texans, but things are not much better. The Falcons dropped Wilson three times and hit him another eight times.
Wilson is still playing at a high level and was able to make plays while scrambling. But with a run game that is almost non-existent, he cannot carry the offense by himself. Wilson ran for a game-high 86 yards and a touchdown. He threw for 258 yards with two scores and an interception on a 26-of-42 night. Wilson was the Seahawks' offense on Monday and, should he somehow will the Seahawks into the play-offs, he deserves to be named the NFL MVP.
UNCLEAR HOW GOOD FALCONS ARE
The Falcons have beaten up on the wounded Cowboys and Seahawks over the last two weeks, but this is still the team that lost at home to the Bills and Dolphins. Atlanta was walloped by the Patriots in a Super Bowl rematch, but still have a good chance of getting into the play-offs. It just likely will not be as a division champion with the Saints and Panthers playing well.
The Falcons do have a chance to gain ground with two games against the Saints over the next five weeks before a matchup with the Panthers in the regular-season finale. They also have two games remaining with the Buccaneers, beginning next week, as five of Atlanta's final six games are in the division. The only game outside of the division will be December 3 with another play-off litmus test against the Vikings.
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