Well Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons won a playoff game despite doing nearly everything in their power to give the game to Seattle. Atlanta clearly dominated the first half of this game, but the Seahawks showed incredible resiliency in mounting a 20 point come back. Russell Wilson displayed a calmness and poise that is well beyond his years. Coach Pete Carroll must have seen this in training camp and that is why Wilson was awarded the starting quarterback position over a highly touted and a well paid Matt Flynn. Though in the end it was Ryan and the Falcons who were flying high at the game’s conclusion.
General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, Head Coach Mike Smith, and quarter back Matt Ryan all were looking for their first playoff win. The Falcons had acquired a reputation as a good regular season team but a team that chokes in the post season. Well the way things started out on Sunday afternoon, it looked like Atlanta was going to rid themselves of said reputation. Ryan hit Gonzalez in the 1st quarter for a short TD. This was after a Matt Bryant field goal earlier in the quarter. Bryant added another field goal in the 2nd period which again was followed by a 47 yard touch down strike by Matt Ryan to receiver Roddy White who made a beautiful diving catch in the endzone. All the while the Falcons defense kept stifling the Seahawks offense. When Seattle was able to move the ball, they made some questionable personnel changes and some questionable play calling. So at half time we have a 20-0 lead for the home team Falcons.
In the 3rd quarter both teams traded touch downs and it still looked like Atlanta could not be stopped by the vaunted Seahawk defense. Honestly to this point in the game it looked as if Seattle was playing some very uninspired football. We that all changed in the 4th quarter.
The 4th quarter became the Russell Wilson show. He was able to scramble from the pocket and hurt the Falcons defense because they had no one accounting for the quarterback. So as he was able to gain yards with his feet the defenders began to loosen the coverage on the receivers because they were forced to keep an eye on Wilson. I must add that John Abraham sat out a considerable portion of this game and that most certainly allowed Wilson to make use of his elusiveness against the Falcons defensive line. That being said Wilson lead Seattle on 3 touch down scoring drives in the 4th quarter. This inspired the defense who all of a sudden came to life and began stopping the potent Atlanta offense. The momentum had swung in favor of the Seahawks and it appeared as if the Falcons choke artist reputation had reared it’s ugly head once again. But alas Matt Ryan had other plans for the final outcome of this game.
Ryan was left with 31 seconds to get the Falcons into field goal range. To a team as loaded with the weapons Atlanta has, 31 seconds is an eternity. A deep out pass to Harry Douglas and fittingly a 19 yard pass to Ryan’s go to guy, Gonzalez, had them in range of Matt Bryant. Bryant then nailed the 49 yard attempt and propelled the Falcons into the NFC Championship Game, which will be played in Atlanta. Why Seattle switched it’s coverage on the last drive befuddles me. The Seahawk defense had confounded the Falcons offense for most of the 4th quarter so why change it with 31 seconds left?
Congratulations to the Atlanta Falcons, Mike Smith, Matt Ryan, and GM Thomas Dimitroff on finally getting that 1st playoff victory. It certainly was a long time coming.
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