By Matthew Asher
So much for history repeating itself. Last year Atlanta was able to hold back a hungry and scrappy Seattle Seahawks team and escape the Georgia Dome with a 30-28 win in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. This season Seattle didn't even give Atlanta a chance to win, thumping the Dirty Birds 33-10.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said this win was "the best game we've played." Given how handily the Seahawks beat Atlanta, it's hard to argue with that statement. Russell Wilson and company spent the first half of the game cutting through the Falcons defense and Seattle's defense spent the entire game denying Atlanta any semblance of offense.
This is a game where it's really tough to find anything Atlanta did well. Matt Ryan didn't throw any interceptions, but that's about it. Therefore the usual Good, Bad and Ugly will be replaced by the Bad, Really Bad and Ugly.
Atlanta's offense gets a D-
Just to be clear, the only reason Atlanta's offense doesn't get an F is because they were able to score 10 points. Other than the points, dreadful doesn't even begin to describe Atlanta's offensive woes in this game. Matt Ryan, who came into the contest averaging more than 280 passing yards per game, didn't break the 200-yard passing mark.
Taking the final play of the first half out of the equation when Matt Ryan took a knee, Atlanta had six first-half possessions and managed a paltry 105 yards of offense on 27 plays. They went three-and-out three times and went four-and-out twice.
The Really Bad
Atlanta's defense in the first half gets an F
While Atlanta's defense didn't play well throughout the game, it was the first half, specifically the second quarter, that spelled doom for the Falcons. Just like Atlanta, Seattle had six first-half possessions. Unlike the Falcons, the Seahawks scored on five of them. In the second quarter, Seattle had four possessions and was able to put up 20 points, with 17 straight after an Atlanta field goal cut the Seattle lead to 6-3.
Atlanta may have only given up 10 points in the second half, but with Marshawn Lynch running the ball 16 times in the third and fourth quarters, Seattle wasn't trying to run up the score.
Atlanta's running game gets an F
After Lynch got his only touchdown of the game early in the final quarter, backup running back Christine Michael finished the game and still was able to successfully move the chains. As a team, Seattle combined to run for 211 yards on 42 carries for an impressive five yards per carry.
What about Atlanta's rushing statistics? Try 16 rushes for 64 yards. While averaging four yards a carry isn't bad, Atlanta has the absolute worst rushing attack in the league and they didn't even match their game average in rushing yards.
With Atlanta now 2-7 and all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they head to Tampa Bay next week to take on one of the two teams they have managed to beat this season, the Buccaneers. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST. Can the Falcons #RiseUp against the only NFL team without a win this season?
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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