Atlanta Falcons hang on defeat Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) catches a four-yard touchdown pass against Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell (59) during the first quarter Monday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI | License Photo

By The Sports Xchange – UPI

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes, and Seattle came up short on a game-tying field-goal attempt with two seconds left as the Falcons held on to defeat the Seahawks 34-31 on Monday night in Seattle.

Down by 11, the Seahawks tried to rally late, with quarterback Russell Wilson connecting with Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard touchdown and tight end Jimmy Graham hauling in Wilson’s two-point conversion pass to get the Seahawks 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-1, 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 field-goal 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.

It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Falcons capitalized early on field position and great plays by their defense to take an early advantage. Atlanta was 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 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 1-yard touchdown run from Tevin Coleman.

On Seattle’s first possession, Atlanta cornerback Desmond Trufant — a Tacoma native and University of Washington alum — nearly had a pick-six if it weren’t for Wilson chasing down the tackle. Ryan would find Mahomed Sanu for a 2-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 — coming off a 5-sack performance last week — 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 1-yard touchdown run from Wilson to make the score 21-17.

A Falcons field goal put Atlanta ahead 24-17 going into halftime.

NOTES: Seattle’s 94 penalties were 10 more than any other NFL team entering Monday night, despite playing one fewer game. … Seattle CB Shaquille Griffin left the game with a concussion on the second play of the game. CB Byron Maxwell, signed just six days ago, replaced him. … Seattle RB Mike Davis started after being on the practice squad for the first 10 weeks of the season. … Seattle allowed 14-plus points in the first quarter at home for the fourth time during the Pete Carroll era. … Atlanta S Keanu Neal left the game in the first quarter with a head injury but returned and made a huge hit to prevent Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham from scoring. Seattle ultimately settled for a field goal.

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