In the playoffs, everything is bigger: the games, the lights, the crowds and the plays. On Sunday, the Falcons fed off a Georgia Dome crowd that consistenly broke 100 decibels during the first half as they jumped out to a 20-0 lead heading into the break.
As should have been expected, Seattle mounted a comeback, a valiant one that brought them to within a touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter. Seattle made a few big plays of their own to get them back in the ball game, but when everything was on the line, a third-and-8 situation with just less that six minutes to go, the Falcons stopped Seattle's advance.
But the Falcons couldn't turn that defensive stop into points, losing the ball on downs as the seconds ticked off the clock. Seattle resumed their second-half march and on that final trip, they punched it into the endzone behind a two-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch, taking the lead after the point after 28-27.
And hope looked lost, but as Falcons fans have come to understand, things are rarely lost when it comes to the 2012 Falcons. They've been there and done that with the game on the line. They've mounted comebacks. They've held off comebacks. On Sunday, for a chance at the first win in the playoffs under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons lost a big lead, but did just enough when everything mattered to get the win back.
Trailing by one with 31 seconds remaining, a 34-yard kick return by Jacquizz Rodgers set up the comeback.
"I think Tyson Clabo said 'we just need 30 yards,' center Todd McClure said of the discussion in the Falcons huddle when the drive began. "When you think about it like that that's two fast plays. In a crucial situation, we went out and got it done."
Matt Ryan connected with Harry Douglas for a 22-yard gain and then Tony Gonzalez stepped up once again with a 19-yard catch to set up field position.
Matt Bryant stepped onto the field with 13 seconds remaining and connected. His field goal gave the Falcons a 30-28 lead and the Georgia Dome erupted as the final seconds ticked off the clock to expire Seattle's final comeback attempt. Eruptions from the dome sustained the Falcons throughout Sunday and the they'll look to that support in the next step of their journey.
"The real 12th man was in this building tonight," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "We're going to need them all the way through. The Georgia Dome has to be even louder next week because we're one step away from our goal. We've got to go out there and get the job done."