Before Sunday's game at Seattle was even minutes old, Atlanta had learned, by a Philadelphia win over the New York Giants, that the Falcons had clinched a playoff spot. But that's not all the Falcons were playing for. Coming into the game and needing to win two of the next three to clinch the NFC South and the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, the Falcons wanted to take one step closer to their ultimate goal. They did that easily Sunday with a 34-18 win over the Seahawks.
Coming to Play
Things started out shaky defensively as Seattle started the game with a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that took 7:32 off the clock with a nifty offensive strategy of dinking and dunking down the field. The Falcons were able to answer back with a TD, and that's when the defense woke up. The Seahawks were forced into three-and-outs while the Falcons were finding ways to shut down quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the offensive strategy that burned the defense during the opening drive of the game.
Hasselbeck hadn't had the best of luck finding his receivers recently, throwing six picks in his previous two games coming into Sunday. The Falcons were able to add to the total as Brent Grimes came up with another one of his patented high-flying interceptions and William Moore added another to his season total after Grimes tipped an errant pass into the air. Both plays set up Falcons scores.
Jamaal Anderson and Jonathan Babineaux got into the turnover act as the two combined for an opportunistic play in the third quarter. Punter Michael Koenen had pinned the Seahawks back inside their 5-yard line before Hasselbeck took over the offensive drive. On the first play, Hasselbeck took the snap and dropped into a pocket that quickly disappeared. Anderson came in and forced the fumble while Babineaux pounced on the ball for the first touchdown of his career. That accounted for the second touchdown of the season from a defensive lineman this year. Kroy Biermann scored one on an interception return during a Week 5 win over Cleveland.
Running back Jason Snelling missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, and he was welcomed back to the active gameday roster Sunday. The first Falcons touchdown of the game went to the backup RB as Matt Ryan found him for a 3-yard touchdown reception. The rest of his day didn't exactly go as well, as Snelling fumbled the ball on two straight plays — both of which were recovered by the Falcons. Regardless, Snelling is a very useful addition to the offensive gameplan with his versatility.
Several marks were set for the Falcons during Sunday's game. Most notably, tight end Tony Gonzalez broke Jerry Rice's record for most consecutive 60-reception seasons with 12. Also, Roddy White became the first Falcons receiver with 100 receptions since 1995 when he caught his first pass of the game during the first half.