The Seahawks fell to the Atlanta Falcons Saturday 36 – 20. The Falcons move on to face either the Cowboys or Packers in the NFC Conference Championship game, while Seahawks are left to dissect just what ended their season today. There is certainly a large corpse in the autopsy room, and plenty of possible causes.
The Story: Matt Ryan and big plays by Falcons’ receivers, Atlanta’s pressure on Russell Wilson, and penalties on the Seahawks return teams.
Let’s get those egregious penalties out of the way first. The penalties weren’t bad calls. Nor did they cost the Seahawks this game. The Falcons defensive line dominated the Hawks’, and that’s the main story. But Devin Hester had about 3,342 return yards called back, and that is only a slight exaggeration. Those that doubted Hester could make a difference, well, I guess you were right, as the Seahawks are going home. But we *did* say a week ago that Hester could still be very dangerous, and he was that and much, much more. He actually had three long returns called back for holding on the return team – all three on plays which had no bearing on the returns. More later on the worst of these plays.
Back to Matt Ryan. His stats weren’t spectacular, but he was very effective, going 26 of 37 for 338 yards, three touchdowns and no picks – that’s efficient. He repeatedly found the seams in Seattle’s secondary. Unlike his counterpart on the Seahawks, Matty Ice had plenty of time on most of his attempts. In large part that was due to effective running by both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Coleman had 57 yards rushing and added another 22 yards with a touchdown through the air. Freeman ran for 45 and a touchdown and added another 80 receiving. Ryan connected with eight different receivers; combined with the running game, this kept the Legion of Boom on their heels, especially after both corners Deshawn Shead and Jeremy Lane were lost to injury.
Mailbag: What to expect this weekend
Preview:: How will this exciting weekend play out?
Awards:: cover32’s end-of-season awards
Finally, A Smart Move: Did the Rams finally get it right with their new head coach?
The Hawks never could get their game going with any consistency. This, despite the heroics of Paul Richardson. This was not, I repeat not, his best catch today:
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 14, 2017
Richardson was huge in victory versus the Lions, and he was huge today. Next year is looking pretty tasty with this guy no win full stride and completely healthy. Unfortunately, there were far too few plays like this today, as Russell Wilson was under near-relentless pressure. He was sacked three times, took seven additional hits, and was hurried 17 more times. On 34 dropbacks, 27 pressures isn’t going to get it done. Combine the genetic material of Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, and that marvelous freak wouldn’t have had enough time today. Maybe Barry Allen, but that’s about it. Better line play, perhaps more of Marcel Reece, too. It didn’t happen today, and that was the biggest factor in the Seahawk’s offensive woes.
This one goes to a coach, Darrell Bevell. I’d say that perhaps he should share this with the O line coach, Tom Cable, for as well as the line performed last week against the Lions, they were just as bad today. Bevell, however, inexplicably kept Marcel Reece on the bench far too often, and only got Thomas Rawls 11 touches. What the heck, a third share to special teams coordinator Brian Schneider, for those abysmal penalties that cost Hester three amazing returns and three great field positions.
Play of the Game
Back to Devin Hester, who had 179 return yards today. Keep in mind, three great returns were called back. By far his best play today was this beautiful 79 yard punt return.
— Zach Brunner (@FantasyFlurry) January 14, 2017
This was called back for a hold by Kevin Pierre-Louis at the line of scrimmage, which had zero bearing on the play. But a hold is a hold, and this was, in effect, an 84 yard penalty. Instead of first and goal at the Atlanta nine yard line, it’s first and ten at Seattle’s own seven. The score was 10 – 7 Seattle. Thomas Rawls loses a few yards on first down, and Russell Wilson gets stepped on by his own player on second and is tagged for a safety on the next play. That’s a huge swing, folks. The way the rest of the game played out, I have to think the Falcons would have still won, as Wilson just had no time to throw, and the defense couldn’t rush Ryan. But that play sealed it.
Tweet of the Week:
There’s a lot to be said for going up against the best and testing yourself. There is alos a lot to be said for absolute honesty:
Michael Bennett keeps it real. pic.twitter.com/c0h4VNVIwk
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 11, 2017
Hey look, the Jaguars are on the schedule next year! You’re welcome, Mr. Bennett!
Next Up: some other teams play other games. Considering the losses the team suffered, it was a damn good year. There are 24 other teams that would have given quite a bit to play this weekend, and the Seahawks made it. The Hawks will be back, stronger than ever.