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Photoblog: Seahawks Fall to Atlanta.

The Seahawks returned to Qwest Field in Week 15 for a matchup with the NFC leading Atlanta Falcons.

In the locker room hours before kickoff, safety Lawyer Milloy wraps black tape around his shoe and ankle.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and head coach Pete Carroll confer in the locker room before the game.

Cornerback Marcus Trufant does his pregame stretching as the low winter sun cast his long shadow across the turf.

Even though receiver Deon Butler is lost for the season with a broken leg, the team's equipment staff prepared his locker as usual.

Butler entered the locker room via wheelchair aided by assistant equipment manager Kyle Stillwell. At right is Butler's close friend Aaron Curry.

Defensive leader Lawyer Milloy followed injured defensive end Red Bryant (right) with an impassioned pregame speech to the team moments before taking the field.

Running backs Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch make their way through the fog blanketing the tunnel used in pregame introductions.

Tight end Cameron Morrah is upended by Atlanta's Thomas DeCloud during the Seahawks opening scoring drive.

The Seahawks stuff Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan's sneak attempt on fourth down, but officials ruled for a first down which was upheld after a Seahawks challenge.

Seahawks fans show their displeasure with the ruling on the field after Seattle believed it had stopped the Falcons on fourth down.

Linebacker Will Herring forces a fumble by Atlanta's Jason Snelling, but the Seahawks were unable to recover the loose ball.

Seahawks defensive back Jordan Babineaux provided a highlight with this interception of a Matt Ryan pass.

Babineaux returned the interception 27 yards to set up a field goal by the Seahawks Olindo Mare.

Seahawks linebacker Raheem Brock drives Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan into the turf.

Seattle's Aaron Curry celebrates a defensive play.

The Sea Gals dressed in festive attire for the game, which is the last home game before the holidays.

Charlie Whitehurst entered the game in the second half and engineered a scoring drive capped by his one-yard touchdown run.

Head coach Pete Carroll speaks to the team in the locker room following the defeat.


Game at a glance

A recap of the Seahawks’ 34-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Qwest Field on Sunday:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Matt Ryan. As advertised, the Falcons’ third-year quarterback was effective and efficient, which was reflected in his stats: 20 of 35 for 174 yards, with three touchdown passes and one interception.

As usual, Ryan was even better than those numbers would indicate. Especially on third downs, when he was 11 of 15 for 85 yards and each of his TD passes. On the Falcons’ scoring drives, Ryan was even better on third downs, completing 10 of 12 for 83 yards.

“Matt played well today,” said Falcons wide receivers Roddy White, who caught seven of Ryan’s completions and one of his TD passes. “When we had our chances – we pretty much had good field position all day – we just cashed in when we had our chances.”

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Fourth quarter

Peephole perspective: The Seahawks went to backup QB Charlie Whitehurst, who went into the end zone with his legs for a TD and then a pass for the two-point conversion. It was, however, too little and too late. Falcons 34-18.

Player of the quarter: It’s got to be Whitehurst, who scored the only points of the quarter.

Play of the quarter: On a first-down play, Whitehurst and TE John Carlson hooked up for a 31-yard pass play that also included a 14-yard penalty on Falcons DE Kory Biermann for roughing Whitehurst after the pass.

Number of the quarter: 8. This time, it’s the number of losses the Seahawks have. But they remain tied for first in the NFC West.

The bigger picture: Check these flash-back QB numbers from the third quarter: Ryan 6 of 8 for 44 yards and a TD, for a 127.1 passer rating; Hasselbeck 2 of 6 for 14 yards with two interceptions, for a 2.8 rating.

The defense forced a three-and-out – the Falcons’ first of the game – and Whitehurst led the Seahawks on an 11-play, 88-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard TD and he then passed to Ben Obomanu for the two-point conversion to make it 34-18. The big play on the drive started with Whitehurst and Carlson hooked up for a 31-yard pass play that also included the penalty for roughing Whitehurst after the pass. What was left of the crowd of 67,101 chanted “Charlie … Charlie … Charlie” after Whitehurst scored and again after he threw the nice pass to Obomanu.

On the Falcons’ next play, Seahawks DE Junior Siavii was injured, but he walked off the field and raised a clinched fist to the crowd.

The teams then exchanged punts, before the Seahawks lost the ball on downs on their final possession.


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Third quarter

Peephole perspective: Three Matt Hasselbeck turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble in the end zone) turned into 17 points for the Falcons. Atlanta 34-10.

Player of the quarter: Brent Grimes. The Falcons’ cornerback intercepted one pass and tipped another that was intercepted.

Play of the quarter: Looking to thrown from his own end zone on the Seahawks’ first play of the second half, Hasselbeck was sacked in the end zone and fumbled. Falcons DT Jonathan Babineaux recovered for the TD.

Number of the quarter: 8. That’s Hasselbeck’s uniform number. In the past two games, he has eight turnovers that have led to 37 points for the opposition.

The bigger picture: The Falcons opened the half with their first punt, a 56-yarder by former Western Washington P Michael Koenen that was downed at the Seahawks’ 4.

But the Falcons scored on the next play, as DE Jamal Anderson turned in a fumble-forcing sack of Hasselbeck in the end zone and Babineaux fell on the ball for the TD that made it 24-10.

On the Seahawks’ next possession, Hasselbeck’s pass intended for WR Ben Obomanu was intercepted by Grimes and returned 11 yards to the Seahawks’ 37. The Falcons got a 25-yard field goal by Matt Bryant to make it 27-10. The big plays on the short drive were Ryan’s 12-yard pass to Michael Jenkins and his 6-yard pass to WR Roddy White on third-and-4.

It also was announced that CB Marcus Trufant has a back injury, which is why Kennard Cox has been playing the left side.

On the Seahawks’ next possession, Hasselbeck threw another interception. This pass also was intended for Obomanu, but Grimes tipped it and S William Moore picked off the deflection and returned it 27 yards to the Seahawks’ 21. Michael Turner broke a 15-yard run on the Falcons’ first play and, on third-and-goal, Ryan passed for 5 yards to White for the TD that made it 34-10.

The Seahawks went to Charlie Whitehurst for their final possession of the quarter, but he threw incomplete on second and third downs. Hasselbeck’s numbers: 10 of 17, 71 yards, no TDs, two interceptions.


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Second quarter

Peephole perspective: The Falcons scored 17 points in the quarter to take a 17-10 lead.

Player of the quarter: Matt Ryan. The Falcons’ QB was 14 of 26 in the first half for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He was especially sharp on third downs, as the Falcons converted seven of 11.

Play of the quarter: With the Falcons holding a 10-7 lead, DB Jordan Babineaux intercepted a Ryan pass that was intended for WR Roddy White and returned it 17 yards to the Falcons’ 27 to set up the game-tying field goal by Olindo Mare.

Number of the quarter: 51. That’s the yardage on each of the Falcons’ first two scoring drives. The first took 15 plays, the second 14 plays.

The bigger picture: The Falcons tied the score on the second play of the quarter – Matt Ryan’s 3-yard pass to backup RB Jason Snelling. The score capped a 15-play, 51-yard drive that consumed 8:14. Michael Turner carried eight times for 18 yards, while Ryan ran for a first down on fourth-and-1 and also picked up a first down with third-down completion to WR Harry Douglas (10 yards).

After the Seahawks went three-and-out, the Falcons scored again – and again started with good field position as Eric Weems returned a punt 12 yards to the Atlanta 40. Matt Bryant kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 10-7, and cap a 14-play, 51-yard drive that consumed 7:16. Snelling fumbled twice on the possession, but the Falcons also recovered each – the first was forced by LB David Hawthorne, and recovered by WR Brian Finneran; the second was forced by LB Will Herring, and recovered by White.

The Seahawks got even on a 38-yard field goal by Olindo Mare with 2:05 left in the half. Babineaux set it up by intercepting a Ryan pass that was intended for White and returning it 17 yards to the Falcons’ 27. It was Ryan’s ninth interception of the season, but fourth in the past three games.

But the Falcons came right back, driving 80 yards in 13 plays to Ryan’s 24-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins – who beat Kennard Cox, who was subbing for Marcus Trufant, who went to the locker room just before the pass was thrown and caught. The Falcons converted four third-down plays – Ryan’s 7-yard pass to TE Tony Gonzalez on third-and-2; Ryan’s 5-yard pass to Douglas on third-and-2; Ryan’s 15-yard pass to White on third-and-10; and the TD pass, which came on third-and-6.


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First quarter

Peephole perspective: A rare game-opening TD drive by the Seahawks ended on a 1-yard run by Marshawn Lynch. Seahawks 7-0.

Player of the quarter: Matt Hasselbeck. He was 5 of 5 for 44 yards on the scoring drive, to four different receivers.

Play of the quarter: The TD, as Lynch got into to end zone behind right guard Mike Gibson.

Number of the quarter: Three. That’s the number of times the Seahawks have scored on their opening series this season. The others came against the Cardinals (12 plays, 77 yards) and Bears (six plays, 85 yards).

The bigger picture: The Seahawks got the ball first and drove 80 yards in 12 plays to the 1-yard TD run by Lynch. The Seahawks had only one third-down situation and converted as Hasselbeck and Lynch hooked up n a 17-yard pass play. Hasselbeck was 5 of 5 for 44 yards, while Lynch carried four times for 30 yards.

The Falcons were driving as the quarter ended. They got the ball at their 49 after Eric Weems broke a 46-yard kickoff return and then converted twice on fourth-and-1.


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Junior achievement

It hasn’t been announced, but look for Junior Siavii to start at the five-technique end spot where Kentwan Balmer has been starting for Red Bryant.

Siavii, who has been subbing for the injured Colin Cole at nose tackle, got a lot of work with the starters during the week and also is out there with the No. 1 line as the Seahawks complete their pre-game warm-ups.

Cole returned last week after missing five games with a high ankle sprain.


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No surprises among Falcons’ inactives

Several of the Falcons’ best players missed or were limited in practice during the week, but all are active today.

Inactive for the Falcons:

CB Dominique Franks

RB Antone Smith

LB Spencer Adkins

OT Garrett Reynolds

OG Mike Johnson

DE Lawrence Sidbury

DT Trey Lewis

3rd QB: John Parker Wilson


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Andrews inactive for Seahawks

Friday, coach Pete Carroll said that Mike Gibson would start at right guard for Stacy Andrews. Today, Andrews is among the team’s inactive players. Andrews had started the past 12 games on the right side for Max Unger, who got a season-ending toe injury in the opener.

Also inactive for the Seahawks today:

CB Walter Thurmond

OG Paul Fanaika

OT Breno Giacomini

OT Will Robinson

DT Amon Gordon

DE Jay Richardson

3rd QB: J.P. Losman


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Countdown to kickoff

Greetings from a chilly Qwest Field, where the Seahawks will host the 11-2 Atlanta Falcons this afternoon in a matchup of NFC division leaders.

What would it be like if the Seahawks were to win the NFC West and advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2007? A lot like this.

“If we do expect to make the playoffs, it’s going to be a team like this that we match up with,” middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu said after practice Friday.

Whoever wins the NFC West – and the Seahawks are tied with the St. Louis Rams at 6-7 – they will be the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, as the division winner with the worst record. They will host the No. 5 seed in the first round of the playoffs, or the wild-card team with the best record. Right now that would be the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. But the Saints (10-3) still can catch the Falcons in the NFC South, and they meet next Monday night in Atlanta.

So that fifth seed could go to the Falcons, if they don’t take care of business in the final three weeks of the regular season.

Could the Falcons possibly stumble today? They’re making their only cross-country trip of the season. They’re playing the last of three consecutive road games. They could be caught looking ahead to their rematch with the Saints (the Falcons won in New Orleans earlier this season). They could be caught overlooking the Seahawks, who have lost five of their past seven games.

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