When Marshawn Lynch jogged into the end zone for a touchdown with 8:48 left in the fourth quarter, about half of the remaining fans in attendance at the Georgia Dome headed for the exits. There were fewer of them this week than there had been three weeks ago when the Falcons took on the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and by the time the final whistle blew a meager sampling Atlanta faithful were still around to hear it. Seahawks fans moved down to the lower levels of the dome, cheering and draping flags over the Dome’s barricades. For the Seahawks these days the 12th man is everywhere.
When it was all said and done, Seattle put a beating on the Falcons, 33-10, to move to 9-1 on the season. The Falcons fell to 2-7.
The contrast of the two coaches’ post-game comments illustrated just how lopsided the game was
“It was a tough game for us in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith. “I do feel like our guys are playing hard, we just basically didn’t win the line of scrimmage today, on both sides of the football.”
The Seahawks, on the other hand, were “rock solid” in their play.
“I think it was our most complete game of the year,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “We couldn’t wait to get out on the football field. We were rock solid in all three phases. Defense played well. With the exception of those penalties, the guys played great. On offense, we really hoped we turned the corner in the running game.”
For the Falcons it was a lot of the same sad story. The running game was ineffective again, accounting for only 57 yards on 15 attempts and RB Steven Jackson had just 11 yards on 9 carries. Though he insists he is “100 percent” healthy, the Falcons’ biggest free agent acquisition didn’t hesitate to say he is very frustrated.
“Of course I’m frustrated,” said Jackson. “Yes, I am. The thing about it, you’ve just gotta keep chipping away. No one’s gonna come in the locker room and save us. We’ve got to save ourselves.”
Matt Ryan wasn’t much better, throwing for only 96 yards through three quarters and finishing with 150 yards for the game, most of which came on garbage-time drives that resulted in nothing more than padding on the stat sheet. He overthrew and missed receivers for most of the day in one of his worst performances of the year.
“I think it’s been frustrating,” Ryan said of the season. “Obviously we’re nine games into it and certainly not even close to where we want to be, and that makes it difficult.”
Even the return of WR Roddy White, who missed the past three games with hamstring and ankle injuries, was loathe to help the Falcons offense. White caught just one pass for 20 yards with 7:32 remaining in the first quarter and had zero catches thereafter.
“We were trying to get [White] the ball,” said Ryan. “I thought he played pretty well for us today…I don’t know why some of the things we designed didn’t work and where we need to be better, but certainly for us to be efficient we gotta get him the ball more than we did today.”
Ryan’s best pass of the day was a dump off in the fourth quarter to WR Harry Douglas over the middle for 49 yards that Douglas promptly fumbled right to the Seattle defense on the Seahawks’ 11 yard line.
The defense was equally unimpressive, allowing Seattle running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch to have his way all afternoon. Lynch ran for 145 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.
“I think Marshawn definitely sets the tempo for us, that’s just how he is,” said Carroll. “He has been playing so consistently…he just continues to play consistent and make the plays. He is our guy and we are counting on him and that is just the way he is.”
Seattle was without starting C Max Unger and starting RT Breno Giacomini, but it didn’t seem to matter. After his touchdown, Lynch took the rest of the game off and running back Christine Michael pounded the Dirty Birds for 33 yards on 8 carries to close out the game.
The injuries appeared to have little effect on the passing game either as quarterback Russell Wilson delivered strike after strike to receivers, creating big plays that set up the Seahawks for scores. Wilson was 19/26 for 287 yards and two touchdowns with a 134.6 passer rating. Wilson was pressured often, but still managed to toss up perfect jump balls that his receivers beat the Falcons secondary to time after time.
Seattle WR Golden Tate had a highlight-reel performance, hauling in 6 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
“Guys should be frustrated,” said Ryan. “We all put a lot into this, we work hard at it and so when it doesn’t turn out the way that you want it to, I think that is disappointing and frustrating, but you gotta keep going, you have to keep working hard, have to keep at it, week in and week out and remain focused on trying to get a win next week. I think that’s where our mindset has to be right now.”
The one bright spot for the Falcons was the play of rookie LB Paul Worrilow, who led the Falcons defense with 19 tackles, marking the second week in a row he has led the team in tackles. Warrilow’s 19 stops are tied for the most by any Falcon defender since 1994, and he is the first Falcon since Jesse Tuggle and the only other player to notch two 15-plus tackle games in a season, netting 21 tackles in last week’s 34-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The Falcons will try to pick up the pieces next week when they play the Bucs again in Tampa next week.