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Falcons Top Seahawks 30-28 to Advance to NFC Championship Game

So many story lines in Sunday’s NFC Divisional Round Playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons, it’s tough to know where to begin. There was the rookie sensation quarterback running the supposed “college offense” that “won’t work in the pros” vs the prototypical NFL pocket passer. The was the fact that the rookie quarterback Russell Wilson already had a playoff win under his belt in his rookie year, but Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was still looking for one five years into his career. And that is just the pre-game stuff.

In the first half we had the Falcons racing out to a 13-0 lead. And then the Seahawks drove down to the Falcons 11 yard line. Facing a fourth and one, they decide to go for it and their fullback was stuffed at the line. Ryan then hit Roddy White a couple of plays later on a long rainbow pass to the end zone that put the Falcons up 20-0. Then Seattle mis-managed the clock late in the half and instead of perhaps kicking a field goal, they got nothing.

On to the second half…score: Atlanta 20- Seattle 0.

With Atlanta up 27-7, the fourth quarter arrived. And Wilson started to get hot. He led the Seahawks on a touchdown drive and ran for the one yard score himself to cut the lead to 27-14. Then Ryan badly overthrew his wide receiver on the ensuing possession giving Wilson and the Seahawks the ball back. He drove them quickly down the field again and then threw a touchdown pass to Zach Miller with still 9:13 left. Falcons 27- Seahawks 21. Every Falcons fan was getting that choking feeling. The Seahawks had all the momentum. Again Ryan failed to move the offense, Again Wilson got the Seahawks in good field position.

But this time the Falcons defense stiffened and Seattle was forced to punt. But again the offense could do nothing and Wilson got the ball one more time. Now here is where things really get interesting. With a first down ad goal at the two yard line and about 30 seconds left in the game, Marshawn Lynch runs the ball t the goal line and the ball pops out. Seattle center Todd Unger catches the ball and walks into the send zone. But wait, in the last two minutes, only the fumbler can recover the ball and score a touchdown. So the play went to review. Replay showed Lynch did break the plane of the goal line and Seattle was given the touchdown. The PAT made it 28-27 in favor of Seattle. Should Seattle have perhaps not tried to score on first down to run some more clock and perhaps force the Falcons to burn one of their two remaining timeouts?

But the Falcons were not dead yet. They still had two timeouts left. After the kickoff, Matt Ryan had 25 seconds left and two timeouts to get the Falcons within the field goal range of Matt Bryant. On first down he hit Harry Douglas for 22 yards. Timeout. He then hit Tony Gonzalez up the middle for 19 more yards. Timeout. This set up Bryant for a 49 yard attempt with 13 seconds left. As he lined up Seattle coach Pete Carroll calls a timeout just before the snap. The ball is snapped anyway and Bryant goes through with the kick which sails wide right. But there was no play and he gets another try. And this time he splits the uprights. This begs the question, why call a timeout and give the guy a practice kick? I suppose there is always the chance that he could make the first kick and then miss the one that counts, but if you want to “ice” him, why not call the timeout before he gets a freebie? Make him stand there and think about it, but don’t give him a mulligan.

The kick with :08 meant game over, right? Well, not quite. The Falcons tried to squib kick the ensuing kickoff but the Seahawks played soccer goalie and blocked it. Then they recovered the ball near mid-field which is just about how far Russell Wilson can throw the ball into the end zone, which he did on the last play of the game. But Julio Jones intercepted the pass and the Falcons finally had knocked the playoff monkey off Matt Ryan’s back.

So now the Falcons will host the San Francisco 49ers next week for a trip to the Super Bowl!

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