(The Sports Xchange) – Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes and Seattle came up short on a game-tying field-goal attempt with two seconds remaining as the Falcons held on to defeat the Seahawks 34-31 in Seattle on Monday.
Down by 11, the Seahawks tried to rally, with quarterback Russell Wilson finding Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard touchdown and tight end Jimmy Graham hauling in a two-point conversion pass to get Seattle within a field goal with three minutes left.
The Falcons needed one first down to put the game away but Seahawks defensive end Sheldon Richardson sacked Ryan on third-and-one, setting the stage for another potential Seahawks fourth-quarter comeback.
Seattle got within field-goal range and gave Blair Walsh, who was perfect on the day, a chance to send the game into overtime with seven seconds to go. However, his 52-yard attempt fell short and Atlanta escaped with the win.
The Falcons added a rare loss to Seattle’s impressive primetime record and improved to 6-4 to stay in the playoff picture with six weeks left in the season.
Seattle, also 6-4, missed an opportunity to tie the Los Angeles Rams for first place in the NFC West.
While not necessarily pretty, the Falcons capitalized on field position and great plays by their defense to take an early advantage, and were able to hold the lead from start to finish.
The win leaves the Falcons two games behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South and gives them the edge over the Seahawks should any tiebreaker between the two be necessary.
Ryan finished 19-of-27 for 195 yards. Wilson was 26-of-42 for 258 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair.
Atlanta looked to pull away from the outset as it capitalized on a 50-yard kickoff return from Andre Roberts and a defensive pass-interference call on Jeremy Lane in the end zone to set up a one-yard touchdown run from Tevin Coleman.
On Seattle’s first possession, Atlanta cornerback Desmond Trufant nearly had a pick-six if it were not for Wilson chasing down the tackle. Ryan would find Mahomed Sanu for a two-yard touchdown a few plays later.
Seattle responded on its next drive when Wilson connected with Graham for his third touchdown in three games.
Although Seattle’s defense was able to force the Falcons to punt on their next possession, it was the Atlanta defense — led by head coach and ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — that would score the next points.
Falcons defensive linemen Takkarsit McKinley and Courtney Upshaw teamed up for a sack-fumble on Wilson, and defensive end Adrian Clayborn scooped and scored from 10 yards out to put Atlanta up 21-7 early in the second quarter.
Seattle climbed back with a Walsh field goal and a one-yard touchdown run from Wilson to make the score 21-17. A Falcons field goal put Atlanta three points further ahead going into halftime.
Editing by John O’Brien