Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Sunday’s 30-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 14 – one day after the Seahawks’ 30-28 divisional-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps Sunday’s game, “Twenty-five seconds. That’s how long Seattle’s defense — which allowed the fewest points in the league during the regular season — needed to hold on. Turned out 12 seconds was all the Falcons needed to complete two passes and put kicker Matt Bryant in position for the game-winning field goal that turned Seattle’s incredible comeback into ash. ‘We’re a real resilient young team,’ defensive tackle Red Bryant said. ‘We had our opportunities. Atlanta made some great plays, and was able to get the game-winning field goal.’ “

O’Neil highlights the play of Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “Russell Wilson completed his first 10 passes in the second half, threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another. He threw for 385 yards, not only the most for a Seahawk in a playoff game but the most ever for an NFL rookie in the postseason. ‘He is an amazing football player,’ coach Pete Carroll said afterward. ‘He proved himself again and again. It is undeniable that you look at anything he did and put a star on it.’ ‘

O’Neil has his “2-minute drill“, naming Wilson, Seahawks tight end Zach Miller and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez his players of the game, “Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 385 yards, not only a career high and franchise playoff record, but also the most ever for a rookie quarterback in a playoff game. Seahawks tight end Zach Miller had not had more than 59 yards receiving in a game since joining Seattle. He had a career-high 142 yards against Atlanta despite playing with a torn plantar fascia suffered on the third play of the game. It was the second-most receiving yards by a Seahawk in a playoff game behind Darrell Jackson’s 143 in 2005.”

O’Neil and Larry Stone of the Seattle Times share their game notebook, “He [Zach Miller] suffered a torn plantar fascia on the third play, and was taken to the locker room where he had a painkilling shot. Miller returned to catch eight passes for 142 yards, both game-highs. It was nothing short of remarkable, not just because of his injury, but because he had never had more than 59 yards in any game as a Seahawk. That receiving total was a career-high for Miller, who played four seasons with the Raiders before signing with Seattle last year. ‘It was nice to get some balls like that,’ Miller said. ‘But I’m disappointed that we didn’t win when we were so close. If there is any solace, I don’t feel it right now.’ Miller’s receiving total was one yard off Darrell Jackson’s franchise record for receiving yards in a playoff game.”

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says while this playoff loss hurts, the future for the club is bright, “Eventually the pain will subside and this young team will begin to remember all of the good from this season. And, as they gather for offseason workouts and begin the long preparations for next September, they will look back on this 11-win year and tell themselves this was just the start of something big. ‘Next year will be my ninth,’ Hill said, about a half-hour after Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal, ‘and it’s been a fun ride. You don’t get many teams as good as this. And it’s only the beginning, man. A lot of young guys, a lot of pieces in place around here. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to shake.’  Look around this locker-room-in-mourning and all you see are possibilities. ‘We felt like this was our year,’ fullback Michael Robinson said, ‘and we’ll feel like next year is our year. That’s one thing about a Pete Carroll-coached team, we won’t lack for confidence and we’re going to come to fight you. We need to bring as many of these players back as possible and keep our core group together.’ “

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has his take on yesterday’s Seahawks loss, “Here’s the thing about the Seahawks, though: Despite their blunders, despite a run defense that allowed 167 rushing yards to a poor running team, despite trailing 27-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, they refused to break. And they nearly pulled off their greatest comeback victory ever. Wilson led them, throwing for 385 yards (an NFL postseason record for a rookie quarterback) and two touchdowns. Tight end Zach Miller, who had eight receptions for 142 yards, caught a touchdown pass during the rally. Lynch, who was held to 46 rushing yards, still did his part, plunging into the end zone from two yards out as the Seahawks took a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left. Their fight was remarkable.”

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has a look at Wilson’s performance, “Wilson engineered what should have been the biggest comeback in playoff history in the Georgia Dome on Sunday, giving the Hawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to play in the game. As he has been in this record-setting season, Wilson again was a clear-eyed, cold-blooded quarterbacking machine, who passed for 385 yards, and ran for 60 more. And if the guy is to be downgraded for anything it’s only that he’s a bit of a procrastinator. That, and the fact that he hasn’t figured out a way to get on the field with the defense on the final drive. The Seahawks have seen the improbable out of Wilson for so long, they’ve exhausted their amazement, so the Falcons were kind enough to supply some. ‘He’s got the ‘it’ factor, man,’ said Atlanta safety William Moore. ‘You can’t control a guy like that. That dude is going to be a big problem for defenses in the league. He can do it all — he can run, he can throw, and he has the moxie you like to see in good quarterbacks. He was truly a game-changer.’ “

Boling also comments on the play of Miller, “Miller has been one of the ultimate “team” players, having sacrificed the attention of catching passes last season while the Seahawks needed him to stay on the line to help with shaky protection last season. But his efforts have been highly visible this season. ‘He had a fantastic football game,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He got hurt early in the game and he stuck in there an finished it. The guy was all over the place. He did well catching the ball and making plays. It was his day today and Russell found him all day long.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game recap, “Matt Bryant’s late-game theatrics overshadowed another masterful performance by Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who rallied his team just like he’s done all season. The Seahawks fell behind for a second straight week, this time trailing 20-0 at halftime — the team’s largest deficit of the season. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said there was no panic from his players at halftime. ‘I can’t imagine that anybody expected that we were going to have a chance to get back into that game, except for the guys in that locker room,’ he said. ‘And they knew we were going to have a chance to get back into that game. They felt it the whole time.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his thoughts on yesterday’s divisional playoff, “What went down in the fourth quarter was nothing short of an amazing comeback. Wilson was spectacular, passing for a Seahawks playoff record 385 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 60 yards and another score. But that emotional roller coaster just wasn’t necessary. If the Seahawks didn’t have two empty trips to the red zone in the first half, if Marshawn Lynch hadn’t fumbled, if the defense hadn’t put on one of its worst displays of tackling of the season, the Seahawks could have been in a position to win comfortably. ‘We just didn’t play well in the first half,’ Seattle tight end Zach Miller told reporters. ‘We had some drives but we didn’t get points out of them. Obviously that came back to haunt us. I thought that we played really well in the second half and put us in a position to win, but it didn’t happen.’ “

Boyle also breaks down Sunday’s game by the numbers, “4—Losses on the road this season in which Seattle’s defense gave up a fourth-quarter lead late in the game (at Arizona, at Detroit, at Miami and Sunday in Atlanta). 2—Empty trips into the red zone for the Seahawks in the first half, points they desperately could have used by the end of the game. 0—Punts by the Falcons in the first three quarters, though Matt Ryan was intercepted twice before the Seahawks forced a punt.  0—Sacks by the Seahawks, who clearly missed defensive end Chris Clemons. A blitz by Marcus Trufant produced the only hit on Matt Ryan all afternoon.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says the Seahawks missed defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend against the Washington Redskins, “Matt Ryan, with seemingly endless amounts of time in the pocket, finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. One of those picks came when the Seahawks brought defensive backs Marcus Trufant and Winston Guy off the left edge. That was one way Seattle tried to manufacture a pass rush in the absence of pressure from its defensive line. ‘We felt like we had to to get pressure,’ Carroll said of the more blitz-heavy approach. ‘Even all the way down to the end.’ “

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has reaction from Wilson, “The whipsaw brought a devastating end to a brilliant season that was within reach of the Super Bowl. Wilson had a splendid second half, finishing with a club-playoff-record 385 yards, two passing TDs and one on the ground. Yet after the win, he was almost as remarkable with his response to defeat. Instead of moping, Wilson simply refused to give in, demonstrating why the team has fallen for a rookie they all came to cherish. ‘When the game was over, I was very disappointed, but when I got to the tunnel, walking off, I got so excited for the opportunity next year,’ he said. What? The kid just had a metaphorical arrow shot through his heart, and he already pulled it out. ‘I told (QB position coach Carl Smith) afterward, ‘I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get to the off-season and work and work and work . . . to get to the next season and play.’ “

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his reaction following Sunday’s Seahawks-Falcons matchup, “What it means: The Seahawks lost a heartbreaker after their fourth-quarter pass defense faltered once again, a recurring theme for Seattle. The Seahawks had taken a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds remaining. But they couldn’t stop the Falcons from moving quickly into position for the winning field goal with eight seconds left. The team will have to address that aspect of its performance in the offseason.”

Sando has a chart showing the 2013 NFL Draft order, and after yesterday’s loss to the Falcons it can be deciphered that the Seahawks will hold the No. 25 overall pick.

Sando also says Wilson is the least of the team’s worries, “Wilson totaled 435 yards passing in three Seattle defeats through Week 7. He had rookie postseason record 385 in a single season-ending defeat Sunday, playing well enough to give his team its only lead with 31 seconds remaining. Yardage isn’t always a reliable measure of quarterback performance, but the contrast was irresistible and wholly reflective in this case. Wilson went from having little positive impact during early season defeats to giving Seattle its best chance to win. Some of that had to do with the coaching staff trusting Wilson with more of the playbook.”

And Peter King of SI.com has his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, pinning the Seahawks as the League’s 5th-best team, “5. Seattle (12-6). Welcome to the playoffs, Mr. Wilson. See you back soon, and often. The game is better with you in it.”


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