SEATTLE – Matt Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, Adrian Clayborn returned a fumble 10 yards for a score and Atlanta held off a late rally to beat Seattle 34-31 on Monday night.
The Falcons (6-4) stayed in the hunt for an NFC playoff spot thanks to their second straight victory and handed the Seahawks (6-4) a second consecutive home loss. Ryan threw TDs to Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo, while Tevin Coleman added a 1-yard TD run on Atlanta’s opening possession. But it was Clayborn’s fumble return that helped break the game open early in the second quarter and gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead. He scooped up a loose ball after Russell Wilson was crunched by Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw.
Seattle attempted a late rally down by 11 points. Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard TD with 3 minutes left, and Seattle got in range for a long field goal attempt by Blair Walsh in the closing moments, but his 52-yard attempt with 2 seconds left came up short and Atlanta escaped with the victory.
"That was in our range, and in hindsight I would have just driven it more," Walsh said. "I would have driven it more and not left it short. I was too accurate and didn't have enough on it."
It was an awful night for the Seahawks, filled with more injuries and questionable decisions by coach Pete Carroll. He called for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempting a 35-yard kick. He also made a questionable challenge in the fourth quarter that didn’t go his way and left Seattle with only one timeout.
“As it does it comes down to some critical situations and we’ve got to come through and make some plays and make the conversion that we needed and didn’t quite get it done,” Carroll said.
That lack of timeouts came back to haunt Seattle on the final drive when seconds ticked away and rather than running one more play, Walsh was sent out to attempt the 52-yard kick. His long for the season is 49 yards.
The conclusion only amplified Carroll’s baffling decision at the end of the first half, when Seattle ran a failed fake field goal rather than having Walsh attempt a 35-yarder that would have pulled Seattle within 24-20.