Falcons get Seahawks again — and will interference be called this time?

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, right, and Earl Thomas (obscured) break up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, right, and Earl Thomas (obscured) break up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Falcons will play Seattle in the divisional playoffs next Saturday at the Georgia Dome by virtue of the Seahawks’ 26-6 win over the Detroit Lions Saturday. A few immediate thoughts on the match-up:

• This is a rematch of a divisional playoff game in 2012. The Falcons blew leads of 20-0 at halftime and 27-7 after three quarters, gave up three straight touchdowns to fall behind 28-27 then rallied to win 30-28 on a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 23 seconds left. That game would prove to be ominous foreshadowing for the NFC championship game against San Francisco the following week, when the Falcons led 17-0 and 24-14 but were shut out in the second half and lost 28-24. This year’s Falcons’ offense is better than the 2012 offense, but the team still has something to prove in the postseason.

• Question: Do the Seahawks ever have a pass interference call go against them? They benefited from at least two non-calls against Detroit (although that’s not the only reason the Lions lost). The Falcons know about non-calls. Below are video highlights from the regular season meeting between the teams (won by Seattle 26-24 in October). Many of the highlights focus on the Julio Jones-Richard Sherman match-up. If you jump ahead to the 14:30 mark of the highlights, you’ll see Sherman get away with an interference call after clearly pulling down Jones during a long pass play with 1:30 left in the game. A penalty (or catch) would’ve given the Falcons a first down around the Seahawks’ 35-yard line, already in position for a potential go-ahead field goal. Seattle has one of the NFL’s best defenses, but it’s reputation for getting away with plays like this is well-founded.

• If the Falcons are going to win and advance to the NFC championship, they will need to run the ball better than Detroit. The Lions gained only 49 yards rushing on 15 attempts (3.27 per carry). Conversely, Seattle totaled 177 yards rushing, including 161 and a touchdown by Thomas Rawls. The Falcons have prided themselves on having a balanced off this season. They’ll need to do more than ride the passing attack led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will need to play major roles against a Seattle defense that finished the season fifth in yards allowed, seventh against the run and third in points (18.3).

• The importance of Freeman and Coleman aside — yes, Ryan will be the focus. He has had an MVP-caliber season with 38 touchdown passes, only seven interceptions, 4,944 yards and a league-bests of 9.26 yards per attempt and a 117.1 efficiency rating. However, he’s only 1-4 in career playoff games (the win coming in that frantic finish against Seattle). In five playoff games, he has nine touchdown passes with seven interceptions, 11 sacks, an 85.2 rating and has averaged only 6.68 yards per attempt. Ryan has been the centerpiece of the league’s highest-scoring offense (33.8 points) but he will need to have a strong game to validate the season he just had.

• Quarterback Russell Wilson, tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Douglas Baldwin are all veterans who know how to win playoff games. They’ll be a tough test for the young members of the Falcons’ defense: Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Jalen Collins and De’Vondre Campbell. The defense has been improving despite the absence of injured cornerback Desmond Trufant. But the Seahawks are better offensively than some of the teams the Falcons played down the stretch of the season (Kansas City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Carolina). They looked good for three quarters in the finale against New Orleans but allowed three fourth-quarter touchdowns (albeit, after the game was out of reach, 38-13).

The Falcons have opened as a four-point favorite. My pick: Falcons by a touchdown.

EARLIER: Want a parade, Atlanta? Falcons are your best hope

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29 comments
Goldie Martinez
Goldie Martinez

I don't see this Seahawks offense scoring more than 20-27 points in the Dome, also think Pete Carroll knows this and will try some fake kicks, blitz, on-side kicks, going for it on 4th down.  He knows the Seahawks need points from the unconventional.


If Falcons can put up 4 TDs, they will win.


Floppy
Floppy

I think this Falcon's team has a chance thanks to Coach Smith being gone. That man couldn't coach a winning game if he had to. Now we just have to hope that Ryan doesn't self destruct as usual, throwing interceptions, running for 6 yards when we need 7..

If he does lose the game for us, TRADE him while his MVP stock is high!!! 

etherdome
etherdome

I would love to see Freeney and Beasley bring Wilson down hard.  And when they are not pummeling the mobile QB, I want to see Hageman, Clayborn and Jackson bat down some passes.  

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@Archangel @etherdome Not jealous at all of Wilson.  He's a hobbled mobile QB that has been propped up by his defense and running game.  Wilson is a cog in the wheel.

almmanduane75
almmanduane75

Seattle sure got some home cooking with the refs on Saturday against Detroit.

Tmps1155
Tmps1155

Can we get a heads up when refs are assigned for this game? Who they are and what their tendencies are? Thanks in advance.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Great analysis. Interesting that the NFL has not taken a much harder look at the way the zebras in the secondary put on their dark glasses and take out their white canes when Seattle is at home and is playing defense against a good passing  team. The number of interference calls on Seattle in each home game (against a strong passing offense) and the number of calls/no calls in the second half of fourth quarter would be a very interesting statistic. I do not think it is an imaginary thing that golden boy Sherman et al. get away with a lot of no calls like they did with Julio Jones. Shouldn't the NFL address that? Seems like it. 


As you noted, twice last night, Seattle got away with what would have been big penalties. You know the refs knew they blew it when they go with the "uncatchable ball" canard. Collinsworth, an analyst who knows well of that which he speaks, had a great line - paraphrasing here - "yes, when you are being pulled down by the defender when you are trying to reach the ball, that can it make it uncatchable."  


Call me crazy, but I am convinced that Sherman knew that he could get away with anything he wanted to do in the last minute of the game. First, because he was playing at home, and secondly, because on the whole, the zebras do not want their calls to impact close game out comes (then why have them at all, you might ask, but that is another discussion).  


I would like to think that the zebras will call a fair game in the secondary here in Atlanta, and whatever Seattle fairy dust that creates zebra blindness will not work during the last games in the Dome. But, I would not bet my ranch on it.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Ficklefan: "I would like to think that the zebras will call a fair game in the secondary here in Atlanta . . . But, I would not bet my ranch on it."

______________

Your ranch???

Hell, I wouldn't bet a penny on it.

irishmafia1457
irishmafia1457

LOL, LT no Rawls, injured Wilson, injured Baldwin, and defense assorted injuries, but yeah the refs won the game for them, will laugh again after the Seahawks give a beatdown to the Falcons

DawgNole
DawgNole

@irishmafia1457

Like the last time they played ATL in the postseason?

And if it goes the other way, you'll vanish, right? POOF!

And we'll laugh at you again.

Pama123
Pama123

Falcons needs to run the ball to win this game, and their defense needs to play a helluva lot better.

DawgNole
DawgNole

JS: "This year’s Falcons’ offense is better than the 2012 offense, but the team still has something to prove in the postseason."

__________________

"Something to prove in the postseason."

And how!

Fifty-one seasons, ZERO championships. Something to prove indeed.

Here's your chance, Falcons. You can relieve a whole lot of long-term postseason pain for this city next Saturday. And just think, you have the opportunity--in the process--to avenge that highly tainted Seattle victory back in October.

It's all out in front of you, with home field to boot.

DON'T blow it!

TOJacket
TOJacket

@DawgNole The main reason I want them to win is maybe then you'll shut the hell up about the 50 years BS......I'm sure I'm not the only one.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

You might wish it were BS. Obviously, it's not. Aren't you one of the dimwits who likes to say, "Truth hurts, doesn't it."?

And if the primary reason you're pulling for them is to shut me up, then you're sure as hell not the fan you brag about being.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Why would you want to keep letting folks know that you dream about men wearing panties?

TMI.

Southwired
Southwired

I'm with you on the Falcons by 7, suspect a little more with the abundance of targets Ryan has developed. The Lions seemed to more defeat themselves last night in the first half rather than anything the Seahawks did. Stafford looked off target probably attributed to the porous offensive line play... I see a completely different game when they travel to the ATL. #RiseUp

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Southwired Right about the Lions being off. There were a lot of dropped passes. Stafford had to be a little discouraged with the effort of his receivers.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Rise Up Falcons!!!!!.......Matt Ryan MVP!!

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Julio will get over 200 yards receiving in a Falcons win.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@AlwaysReady

Sure as hell hope your playoff expectation is better than your regular-season predictions:

____________

AlwaysReady November 13, 2016

Falcons will crush Philly.

AlwaysReady November 4, 2016

Georgia Tech beats the TAR out of North Carolina in a very mild upset.

AlwaysReady October 7, 2016

Battle Tested GT beats Pitt.

AlwaysReady September 20, 2016

Go Nicholls State!

Jackets upset Dabo's Tigers.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Never saw one. I'm sure he, like most, expected UGA to beat GT--if that's the one you're referencing.

Perhaps as we approached that season finale, he was so beaten down by his previous failures that he didn't bother to venture a guess on the game.

He did, as you see, cheer on Nicholls. I'm sure you did as well.

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

Seattle averages only 15 pts on the road (28 pts at home). Falcons have too many ways to beat this team. 34-24, Falcons.