By Cedric Williams
The Seattle Seahawks are 4-1 this season and have won three straight games, thanks to Sunday’s 26-24 home victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Some have said Seattle was lucky to win its season opener in Miami, and everyone pretty much agrees the Seahawks looked dreadful in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams. But since then, Seattle has looked like one of the best teams in the NFC, and they proved themselves as much with a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback to defeat Atlanta on Sunday.
The Falcons had been on a roll, winning four straight games of their own, which allowed the “Dirty Birds” to stake their own claim to being the best team in the NFC in 2016—especially since they were the team that handed previously unbeaten Philadelphia its first loss of the season.
But Seattle’s full 60-minute effort, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, proved to be too much for Atlanta. And that’s why we’ve got nothing but high marks for the Seahawks in our gameday grades this week:
The Seahawks put up 333 total yards on offense, including 270 passing yards and an 88.8 passer rating from Wilson, who didn’t throw any touchdowns, but did lead Seattle on two key scoring drives that brought his club back from a 24-17 deficit in the final eight and half minutes of the game.
Running back Christine Michael had 64 rushing yards on 18 carries, but he did score two touchdowns, including a one-yard plunge with just under five minutes left that pulled the Seahawks to within a point.
Tight end Jimmy Graham also had another good day, with six catches for 89 yards. He didn’t quite reach 100 yards as he did in Seattle’s two previous games, but he did help set up two of the Seahawks’ three first half scores with several big catches that helped move his team into scoring range.
For most of the day, Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense was on track for an A-plus grade. The Seahawks had the Falcons stymied for most of the day.
They held Atlanta to just three measly points in the first half, and didn’t let Atlanta score at all in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, none of that was true in third quarter.
That’s when Atlanta ripped Seattle’s D to shreds, scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions, including a mind-blowing 46-yard strike from Falcon QB Matt Ryan to tight end Levine Toilolo. Toilolo was left so wide open that Seahawks corner Richard Sherman had a near meltdown on the sideline that would’ve been the talk of the town had Seattle not come back to win.
Instead, the Seahawks rallied and Sherman’s angry outburst will simply be looked upon as a side note in what turned out to be another exhilarating Seattle win.
Special Teams: C-
The one low mark we feel we have to give the Seahawks in Week 6 goes to the special teams unit, which delivered an uncharacteristically subpar performance on Sunday.
Seattle didn’t get much out of its return game, as return men Tyler Lockett and C.J. Spiller combined for just 130 yards on eight kick and punt returns on Sunday (a 16.3 yard average). Punter Jon Ryan did average 46.0 yards on five punts, with two landing inside the Atlanta 20-yard line. So he had a good day.
But the group that truly didn’t have a good day was the Seattle field goal and extra-point team. Kicker Steven Hauschka connected on just two of his three field goal attempts and he made just two of three PATs—the third was blocked by Atlanta—which kept the Seahawks at a one-point deficit in what should’ve been a tie game late in the fourth.
Fortunately, the defense bailed the special teams out with a huge interception, which led to Hauschka’s game-winning 44-yard field goal with 1:57 left in the game.
The Seahawks seemed to have a terrific game plan early on, and were clearly fired up and ready to play on Sunday, as they jumped out to a 17-3 lead. Atlanta’s coaching staff should be credited with making the better halftime adjustments as their club came out flying with 21 unanswered points in the third to re-take the lead.
But as Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has often done in his time with the Seahawks, he found a way to get his group re-focused to pull out a close one in the end.
Next up for Seattle will be the highly anticipated Sunday Night Football showdown with the Arizona Cardinals.