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NFL: Bryant’s late FG lifts Falcons over Seattle 30-28


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"When they scored their touchdown, I walked down (the sideline)," he said. "I told the offensive line, I told Matt (Ryan), I told all the receivers, ‘We’ve done this before.’"

Wilson threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, doing all he could to pull off the most improbable of comebacks for the Seahawks (12-6). But the Seattle defense, which is one of the NFL’s best and had totally stymied the Falcons in the fourth quarter, went to a softer coverage and got burned.

At a glance

Seahawks-Falcons Stats

Seattle 28, Atlanta 30

Seattle 0 0 7 21 — 28

Atlanta 10 10 7 3 — 30

First Quarter

Atl » FG Bryant 39, 9:40.

Atl » Gonzalez 1 pass from Ryan (Bryant kick), 3:10.

Second Quarter

Atl » FG Bryant 37, 9:13.

Atl » White 47 pass from Ryan (Bryant kick), 4:16.

Third Quarter

Sea » Tate 29 pass from Wilson (Longwell kick), 9:47.

Atl » Snelling 5 pass from Ryan (Bryant kick), 2:11.

Fourth Quarter

Sea » Wilson 1 run (Longwell kick), 13:01.

Sea » Miller 3 pass from Wilson (Longwell kick), 9:13.

Sea » Lynch 2 run (Longwell kick), :31.

Atl » FG Bryant 49, :08.

Attendance » 0.

Sea Atl

First downs 28 24

Total Net Yards 491 417

Rushes-yards 28-123 26-167

Passing 368 250

Punt Returns 2-24 0-0

Kickoff Returns 1-37 4-105

Interceptions Ret. 2-3 1-0

Comp-Att-Int 24-36-1 24-35-2

Sacked-Yards Lost 2-17 0-0

Punts 3-36.7 2-42.0

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-yards 6-35 3-11

Time of Possession 28:47 31:13

Individual Statistics

Rushing » Seattle, Wilson 7-60, Lynch 16-46, Turbin 4-18, Robinson 1-(minus 1). Atlanta, Turner 14-98, Rodgers 10-64, Ryan 1-6, Jones 1-(minus 1).

Passing » Seattle, Wilson 24-36-1-385. Atlanta, Ryan 24-35-2-250.

Receiving » Seattle, Miller 8-142, Tate 6-103, Rice 4-60, Lynch 3-37, Turbin 2-37, Baldwin 1-6. Atlanta, Jones 6-59, Gonzalez 6-51, White 5-76, Douglas 2-29, Rodgers 2-8, Coffman 1-16, Dr.Davis 1-6, Snelling 1-5.

Missed Field Goals » None.

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Atlanta had just enough time to pull off a comeback of its own.

"We had high, high hopes for the rest of the season," Wilson said. "When the game was over, I was very disappointed. But walking back into the tunnel, I got so excited about next year. The resilience we showed was unbelievable."

Wilson finished with 385 yards passing as the Seahawks wiped out a 27-7 deficit entering the final quarter. When Lynch powered over, the ball breaking the goal line just before it squirted from his arms, Seattle celebrated like it had won its second straight playoff game on the road, having already taken care of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.

According to STATS, it would’ve been the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL playoff history.

Not so fast.

Ryan led the Falcons back, wiping out his 0-3 mark in the playoffs, including a crushing loss to Green Bay two years ago when the Falcons were in the same position, the NFC’s top-seeded team with home-field advantage in the playoffs.

"The one thing I’ve learned during my five years in the league, and specifically in the postseason, is that it’s hard," Ryan said.

Now, he’ll no longer be asked why he can’t win in the playoffs.


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"That’s going to be nice," Ryan conceded. "But our goal is not to win one playoff game. Our goals are still in front of us. We still have two more games to go. That’s the mind-set I have. That’s the mind-set this team has."

Wilson’s last throw, a desperation heave into the end zone, was intercepted by Falcons receiver Julio Jones.

Gonzalez, who had never won a playoff game in his 16-year career, broke down in tears after Bryant’s kick went through the uprights.

"I’ve never cried after a win," said Gonzalez, who has stated repeatedly that he’s "95 percent" sure this is his final year. "I was thinking, ‘Here we go again. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.’"

It was.

The Falcons finally lived up to their excellence during the regular season since Smith, Ryan and general manager Thomas Dimitroff took over in 2008, instantly reviving a franchise that seemed down and out after Michael Vick’s dogfighting case. Atlanta has won 56 regular-season games over the last five years, more than any team except New England, but had a reputation for choking in the postseason.

Check that off the list. Atlanta is one win away from the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Ryan threw three touchdown passes, tying a Falcons playoff record, and finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards — the first time he’s eclipsed 200 yards in the postseason. He threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez, a 47-yarder to Roddy White and a 5-yarder to Jason Snelling, the latter with 2:11 left in the third quarter to give the Falcons a seemingly commanding lead.

Wilson took over from there, running 1 yard for a touchdown to make it 27-14, then going to Zach Miller on a 3-yard touchdown pass that closed the gap to 27-21.

Finally, taking over at his own 39 after an Atlanta punt, Wilson completed three passes for 50 yards, the last of them a short throw to Lynch that the bruising runner took all the way to the Falcons 3. The rookie quarterback made it all possible, spinning away from blitzing Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon to keep the play alive.

The Seahawks, though, will spend the offseason kicking themselves for that last Falcons’ drive, and for squandering two scoring chances in the first half.

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