Matt Ryan and the Falcons combine to eliminate scrappy Seahawks

Falcons quarterback MATT RYAN is the leading candidate for the NFL Offensive MVP award. And today, he made sure that the people who vote for that award, will remember his name up until the voting for the award is closed around early February.Matt Ryan 350x350

Ryan went 26 of 37 for 338 yards and 3 scoring passes today, as the Atlanta Falcons (12-5 overall, including playoffs) beat down the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 at the Georgia Dome. Today’s win was the Falcons’ first postseason victory since January 13, 2013—–coming from the 2012 season—–when they beat the Seahawks 30-28 in the same round of the playoffs and at the same venue today’s game was played.

Ryan didn’t beat the Seahawks by himself of course, he received major help from his teammates. And that roll call included running DEVONTA FREEMAN who is a budding star for the Falcons. Recently he received a Pro Bowl invite, which is the second of his young career. Freeman was a pest to the Seattle defense as a receiver (4 catches for 80 yards) and of course as a runner (14 carries for 45 yards and 1 score). If the Falcons go to Super Bowl LI, players like Freeman must be healthy and be on top of their game.

Then there was first-team All-Pro receiver JULIO JONES who caught 6 passes for 67 yards and 1 score today. He left the game though in the fourth quarter with a foot injury and his being ready for the NFC Championship game is questionable. But he did enough in the first half and part of the second half to scare and aggravate the Seahawks defense.Julio Jones 350x350

As for the Seahawks (10-6-1), quarterback RUSSELL WILSON (17 of 30 for 225 yards, 2 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions) and the offense couldn’t really get a rhythm today, as the Falcon defense made it their business to try to shut down or at least limit both facets (passing and rushing) of the Seattle offense.

Seattle struck first in the scoring department, when tight end JIMMY GRAHAM beat Falcons strong safety KEANU NEAL to the left corner of the end zone for a 7-yard scoring play. At the 6:26 mark of the first quarter the Seahawks took a 7-0 lead.

But the Falcons countered that Graham score with one of their own. Jones took a Ryan pass down the middle and into the end zone for a 7-yard score. At the 14:14 mark of the second quarter the game score went to 7-7.

That scoring reception by Jones was the third touchdown catch of his career in the postseason. The last time he caught a touchdown pass in the playoffs was on January 20, 2013, a 28-24 NFC Championship game loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Atlanta received a minor victory on the Seahawks’ second offensive possession, as their defense held the Seahawks to a field goal. STEVEN HAUSCHKA came in and booted a successful 33-yard field goal to give Seattle their second lead of the game at 10-7 and at the 11:20 mark of the second period.

Wilson tripped on the left extended leg of rookie right guard REED ODHIAMBO, and the quarterback fell backwards into the end zone for an Atlanta safety. The score went to 10-9 at the 9:22 mark of the second quarter. The Falcons used that safety to gain their first lead of the game at 12-10 and at the 6:06 mark of the second quarter.

The Falcons again showed how explosive and how much they can easily aggravate an opposing defense, when Ryan found number two running back TEVIN COLEMAN (79 yards total offense and 1 score) all alone in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard score. At the 53 second mark of the second quarter, the Falcons extended their lead to 19-10.

Freeman gave the Seahawks some more worries, when he ran and then crawled into the end zone from a yard out. Near the nine-minute mark of the third quarter the Falcons saw their lead jump to 26-10.

A late third quarter 53-yard reception by Freeman down the middle, was one of those plays in which it was evident that the Falcons were going to win this game. Just when the Seahawks thought they had calmed down the Falcons’ offense a play like Freeman’s would come up.

The Falcons didn’t get a touchdown on the drive that Freeman’s big catch took place on, but they did get some more momentum to carry them through the rest of the game. And they got some more points. A successful 31-yard field goal by kicker MATT BRYANT moved the Falcons’ lead to 29-13 at just past the fifteen-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

Matt Bryant 350

Falcons receiver MOHAMED SANU (4 catches for 44 yards and 1 score) pretty much put the game away, when he beat Seattle cornerback JEREMY LANE for a right corner of the end zone 3-yard scoring play near the 3:40 mark of the fourth quarter. The score was 36-13 at that point.

The Seahawks countered with a too little and too late 31-yard DOUG BALDWIN (5 catches for 80 yards and 1 score) touchdown play, in which the receiver got behind the Falcons defense down the left sideline. The score moved to 36-20 at the 3:21 mark of the fourth period.



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