1) Tough Sledding: Atlanta’s first touchdown came in the third quarter, but by that time the lead by Seattle was large and there wasn’t enough going right for the Falcons to use it to spur a comeback. The Falcons defense had some moments of positive play on Sunday, but Atlanta’s offense had a tough day putting anything together to make the game competitive. They began the game with three straight punts to end possessions before a field goal got them on the board in the second quarter. In Atlanta’s first six possessions, it went three-and-out in three of them. Two of those six possessions involved four plays before punting it back to Seattle. Atlanta’s touchdown came on its eighth possession of the game. Most of these struggles on offense came from an inability to convert third downs. The Falcons were 4-for-12 on third downs Sunday.
2) Explosive Plays Hurt: The Falcons defense started strong, holding the Seahawks to six points on three possessions to begin the game. But then the touchdowns started coming from the Seahawks and their lead grew as the game went on. Atlanta’s defense at one point in the second quarter allowed the Seahawks to gain 126 yards on just three plays, including a 43-yard touchdown. As the game progressed, the big plays the Falcons defense allowed continued to haunt them, giving the Seahawks opportunities to move up and down the field en route to the 33-10 win. In total, the Falcons allowed seven plays of 20 yards or more. Perhaps no play was bigger than Seattle’s first touchdown, the 43-yarder, set up by a handoff that was tossed back to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson before he threw it down field. Safety William Moore said that play gave Seattle the momentum they needed: “Plays like that always give a team motivation to keep going. We could have made that play. That’s one of those plays we’ve got to stop. We’ve got to stop those explosive plays.”
3) Young Linebackers Continue to Shine: One off the few bright spots for the Falcons this season has been the play of their two rookie linebackers, Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu. Injuries put them into position to play this season and while they’ve had some growing pains along the way, they’ve gradually improved and are turning into difference makers on defense. Bartu picked up a sack in the first quarter, giving him 3.5 on the season. The linebacker added six tackles, one tackle for loss and a QB hit, and he’s had at least a half-sack in four of the past five games. Worrilow, a week after setting a franchise record for most tackles in a single game, did it once again, leading the team with 19 tackles and added one tackle for loss.
4. Running Game Slows: Entering Sunday, the Seahawks had allowed 405 yards rushing in the past two games. Their run defense was just a tick better than Atlanta’s and it was an encouraging place to start to look for ways the Falcons could win. It turns out that didn’t happen and the Falcons only managed 64 yards rushing, the fifth straight game they’ve failed to eclipse the 100-yard mark in a game this season. Steven Jackson, playing in his second game back from injury, ran for just 11 yards on nine carries. Jacquizz Rodgers had better luck on the ground, gaining 31 yards on three carries, but the Falcons’ inability to get first downs and keep drives moving meant they couldn’t get any traction in the run game. Jackson said Seattle was game planning to stop the run and the Falcons just have to keep trying to get better on the ground: “You’ve just got to keep chipping away. No one’s going to come from the locker room and save us, we’ve got to save ourselves. We’ll come in tomorrow, look at the film, try to correct what we did wrong and move on. We can’t dwell on it. One thing about being a professional, you’ve got to be honest about the things you’ve made a mistake on and move on to the next one.”
5. Long Day on the Ground: Seattle was able to dial up the run game for big results and everything worked off of that in Sunday’s game. Seattle had over 500 yards of total offense, but the game was won on the ground. Seattle gained 211 yards rushing against the Falcons, led by Marshawn Lynch’s 145 yards, his highest total on the season. Sunday’s game marked the second time the Falcons have allowed more than 200 rushing yards this season. Once the run game started working for Seattle, they didn’t need to abandon it, running 42 times on Seattle’s 69 total plays.