SEATTLE – An efficient offense and a defense that made just enough plays proved to be the difference as the Falcons held on for an exhilarating 34-31 win over the Seahawks on Monday night. With the win, Atlanta improved to 6-4 on the year.
The Seahawks, who trailed by as many as 14 points at one point, rallied late in the fourth quarter as Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 29-yard touchdown with three minutes left to make it 34-31. Seattle (6-4) forced the Falcons to punt and managed to get close enough to attempt a 52-yard field goal with seven seconds left, but Blair Walsh's kick fell short.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan didn't put up gawdy numbers, but they were still impressive as completed 19 of 27 passes (70.4 percent) for 195 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons, who keep pace with the New Orleans Saints (8-2) and Carolina Panthers (7-3) in the NFC South.
While Wilson proved to be a headache at times, the Falcons defense came up with big plays when it needed them, including a big sack and forced fumble of Wilson that resulted in a touchdown by Adrian Clayborn. Takkarist McKinley sacked Wilson early in the second quarter and Courtney Upshaw forced the fumble. Clayborn scooped up the ball and ran it in from 10 yards out to give the Falcons a 21-7 lead.
The defense also came up big at the end of the first half when Grady Jarrett stifled a fake field goal attempt by the Seahawks when he tackled tight end Luke Willson for a 4-yard loss with seven seconds left. At the time, Atlanta was leading 24-17.
The Falcons were without running back Devonta Freeman (concussion) and his absence was noticeable in the running game. Atlanta rushed for just 83 total yards on 27 attempts. Tevin Coleman led Atlanta with the 36 yards on 18 carries.
Falcons start fast, take early 14-0 lead
Andre Roberts started things off with a 50-yard return on the opening kickoff, setting up the offense near midfield. From there, Matt Ryan guided the Falcons the remaining 52 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Tevin Coleman.
After the big return by Lockett, the Falcons’ defense did their part. An errant pass by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted by cornerback Desmond Trufant, who returned the pick 40 yards to set up the offense with great field position.
From there, Atlanta again ran seven plays, this time covering 35 yards and scoring on a one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone by Mohamed Sanu.
His 2-yard grab pushed the Falcons to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter, stealing the early momentum from the home team and quieting the home crowd. For more on the quick start, click here.
What the win means for the Falcons
The Falcons improved to 6-4 on the season and are right in the thick of the NFC playoff race. As of right now, they own the sixth seed, or second wild-card spot. The Falcons own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Seahawks, Cowboys, Lions and Packers. But with six more games to go, including five division games, everything is still on the table for the Falcons.
What’s next for the Falcons
The Falcons will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.
Recap Monday night’s game with the in-game blog
We provided live updates and analysis during Monday night’s win over the Seahakws, as well as highlights, stats and additional insights. You can recap all the action below.