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.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: On the Falcons’ final play of the first half, and a third-and-6 play at that, Ryan completed a 24-yard TD pass to Michael Jenkins. That gave Atlanta a 17-10 halftime lead, one they doubled by scoring 17 more points in the third quarter.
“They were bringing some pressure there later in that drive,” Ryan said. “We kind of moved the ball pretty effectively against that coverage, and they started to bring pressure. They did that on the third down. We held up just long enough and Jenk (Michael Jenkins) ran a great route.”
Defense: On the Seahawks’ first play of the second half, Matt Hasselbeck fumbled when he was sacked in the end zone by Falcons’ defensive end Jamaal Anderson. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux fell on the ball for a touchdown that stretched the Falcons’ lead to 24-10.
Making matters even worse, Hasselbeck said Ben Obomanu was open on the play and would have scored a touchdown – if he had been able to get him the ball.
“That’s a 14-point swing,” Hasselbeck said. “As much as we preach about turnovers, turning the ball over is unacceptable. In the end zone, unacceptable.”
Special teams: After the Seahawks scored a touchdown on their opening possession of a game for only the third time this season, the Falcons’ Eric Weems returned the kickoff 46 yards to set up the Falcons’ first drive – a 15-play, 51-yarder that led to Ryan’s 3-yard TD pass to running back Jason Snelling.
“I thought the special teams did a great job giving us good field position all day, and we were able to capitalize on some drives,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
Pre-game: Who was that woman wearing a customized jersey that featured Jordan Babineaux’s No. 27 for the Seahawks on front and Jonathan Babineaux’s No. 95 for the Falcons on the back? Their mom, of course – Barbara.
She had plenty to cheer about, as Jordan got an interception in the first half and Jonathan scored a touchdown on his fumble recovery in the second half. A real half-and-half performance by the Babineaux brothers, just like their mom’s jersey.
“Good for him,” Jordan said of Jonathan scoring. “But aside from my own little family rivalry, we fell short as a team and that’s what’s most disappointing about today.”
In-game: After Hasselbeck committed his third turnover – a trio of miscues that led to 17 third-quarter points by the Falcons – coach Pete Carroll went to backup QB Charlie Whitehurst.
Whitehurst led a touchdown drive, and scored the TD on a 1-yard run – prompted the crowd to start chanting, “Charlie … Charlie … Charlie.”
Asked about the QB situation for next week’s game against the Buccaneers in Tampa, Carroll said, “I’m just going to look and see what happens, see what the film looks like, make sure that we’re clear on everything that occurred. I want to see how Matt played, and I talked to him on the sideline about it as we made the decision to change. … To point it all at one guy isn’t the right thing to do. So, we’ll figure it out next week and we’ll let you know.”
Post-game: Hasselbeck’s succinct assessment of his performance: “Looking back, I seem to do stupid things when we’re losing.”
Despite falling to 6-8, the Seahawks remain tied for the NFC West lead with the St. Louis Rams – who lost to the Kansas City Chiefs at home today. Next week, the Rams host the San Francisco 49ers while the Seahawks travel to Tampa to play the Buccaneers. Win or lose next week, the Seahawks would clinch the division title with a victory over the Rams in the Jan. 2 regular-season finale at Qwest. If still tied, the Seahawks would have a better division record (4-2) than the Rams (either 3-3 or 2-4, depending on the outcome of next week’s game).
Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams had a game-high eight receptions for 66 yards, giving him 60 for the season. He had played only one series in the previous three games because of foot and ankle injuries.
Seahawks defensive tackle Colin Cole had a game-high eight tackles, one more than linebacker Aaron Curry, free safety Earl Thomas and Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.
White had seven catches for the Falcons, giving him a league-high 106. “It’s special,” White said. “Any time you get the chance to catch 100 balls in this league – I never did that, so I’m really excited about that.”
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez caught four passes, giving him 60 for the 12th consecutive season to break Jerry Rice’s NFL record. “It’s incredible,” he said. “I mean, seriously. That’s one I can look back and say, ‘Wow, Jerry Rice? I broke his record?’ That’s something I thought would never be possible, but it’s good.”
The Falcons have won a league-best eight consecutive games and have the NFC’s best record (12-2).
The Seahawks were penalized 10 times – which tied their season high – for 76 wrong-way yards.
Hasselbeck has committed eight turnovers the past two games that have resulted in 37 points for the opposition.
Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant went out in the second quarter with back spasms and did not return. With rookie Walter Thurmond inactive because of a sore hamstring, that left Kennard Cox to play the rest of the game on the left side.
Junior Siavii, who started at the five-technique defensive end spot, got hit in the head and a stinger in the fourth quarter and did not return. Linebacker Will Herring injured a hamstring.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I was certainly disappointed in the way we let this game get away.” – Pete Carroll