The Falcons fell to the Seahawks 26-24 on a controversial call. The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and DJ Sixsmith discuss the missed pass interference call towards the end of the game.
SEATTLE – Here are the grades from the Falcons’ 26-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday:
Game Balls: None awarded in a loss.
Quarterbacks, B. Matt Ryan put up some great numbers and rallied the team, but his two turnovers led to 10 points and were costly. On his fumble, right tackle Ryan Schraeder was beat by Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril, who knocked the ball loose from Ryan. On the fourth-quarter interception, his pass to Julio Jones was too far out in front of Jones and bounced off his out-stretched arms. (Jones thought he should have made the catch.) Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman popped the ball up and Seattle free safety Earl Thomas made the interception to set up the game-winning field goal. Ryan completed 27 of 42 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with a quarterback rating of 102.8. It was a gutsy performance as he was hit 13 times.
Running backs, D. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were held in check by Seattle’s swift linebackers. Freeman and Coleman torched Denver’s linebackers as they had 36 touches from scrimmage and amassed 286 yards and two touchdowns in the 23-16 win on Oct. 9. Seattle linebackers Bryan Wagner and K.J. Wright kept Freeman and Coleman under control. “They played eight guys in the box on every snap,” Ryan said. “They are very, very good. When you have their talent, that helped shut down the run.” Freeman rushed 12 times for 40 yards and Coleman rushed five times for 10 yards. Freeman caught three passes for 10 yards and Coleman caught one pass for seven yards. Against Denver, Coleman had four catches for 132 yards and touchdown.
Wide receivers/tight ends, C-plus. Julio Jones was held to two catches for 24 yards in the first half. He caught five for 119 yards and one touchdown in the third quarter. He was interfered with on a key fourth-and-10 play late in the fourth quarter, but the refs were sleeping at the wheel. Mohamed Sanu was targeted 10 times, but came up with just five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. Taylor Gabriel was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Tight end Levine Toilolo had a 46-yard touchdown catch. Overall, the receivers/tight ends were targeted 33 times and they caught 22 passes.
Offensive line, C-plus. Seattle’s defensive front was giving the Falcons’ offensive line fits in the first half. The Falcons were held to 86 yards and were 0 of 6 in third-down situations as the Seahawks built a 17-3 halftime lead. “We just needed to settle down,” right tackle Ryan Schraeder said. “Our communication was off in the first half.” At halftime, the offensive line decided to get its act together. “Things weren’t going very smooth for us,” said Schraeder, who also had an offside penalty. “Guys, we got together, we’ve got a lot of leaders on our (offensive) line and we just said, ‘hey, we’re going to come back out and give them a fight.’ ” The line did pull things together in the third quarter. They gave Ryan enough time to find his receivers and he rallied the team with three consecutive touchdown drives. With the line blocking better, the Falcons cobbled together touchdown drives of 75, 79 and 97 yards to take the lead. Ryan was sacked four times and hit 13 times. The Falcons rushed for a season-low 52 yards on 18 carries for a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. The Falcons also rushed for 52 yards in the loss to Tampa Bay.
Defensive line, B-plus. The defensive line could not get to the elusive Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. The only sack came on a cornerback blitz. The Falcons had five quarterback hits. The defensive line played the run well as they held the Seahawks to 72 yards rushing on 27 carries for 2.7 yards per carry. Derrick Shelby and Dwight Freeney had tackles for losses. Shelby appeared to suffer a foot or ankle injury. It was announced as a calf injury.
Linebacker, B-plus. LaRoy Reynolds and Kemal Ishmael started although Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell were back after recovering from ankle injuries. Jones played 26 of 66 defensive snaps (39 percent) and Campbell, who was coming off a high right ankle sprain and hadn’t played since the opener, played 21 snaps (32 percent). Ishmael had eight tackles and Reynolds had six. Jones had four and Campbell made three tackles.
Defensive backs B. Safety Keanu Neal had a tough time with Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught six passes for 89 yards. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin was held in check with four catches for 31 yards. Robert Alford was called for another costly pass interference call. Neal led the defense with 10 tackles.
Special teams, B. Punter Matt Bosher had four punts and averaged 41.3 yards and a 36-yard net. He placed two inside the 20. Kicker Matt Bryant made a 33-yard field goal. The kickoff coverage team held Seattle’s Tyler Lockett to 21.3 yards on four returns. He averaged seven yards on three punt returns. Ra’Shede Hageman had a blocked extra point, which could have been the margin of victory if the Falcons could have run out the clock.
Coaching. C-minus. With the running game shut down, the Falcons were passing with a one-point lead late in the game and it backfired. Also, they didn’t bother to use their last timeout. After spending a week in Seattle, the Falcons weren’t ready to play and nearly got blown out. The halftime speech must have been a good one because the Falcons came out and scored on three consecutive possessions to take control of the game. The pass interference non-call hurt, but a good rushing attack — 4 yards a carry — would have allowed the Falcons to run the clock out and get away with a victory.
GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24
GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16
GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33
GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24