Falcons falter, then rally past Seahawks 30-28
"That's going to be nice," Ryan said with a smile. "But our goal is not to win one playoff game. Our goals are still in front of us."
Bryant made his third game-winning kick of the season. But he'd never made one like this, with so much on the line.
"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 finished with 385 yards passing and led the Seahawks in rushing with 60 yards on seven carries, an even better performance than the one that carried Seattle to an opening-round victory over Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
Not quite enough this time.
"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."
A botched squib kick by the Falcons gave Seattle the ball at its own 46 and a chance at one more comeback. But Wilson threw a short pass that only picked up 6 yards, forcing a desperation heave into the end zone on the final play.
Falcons receiver Julio Jones, who had practiced for just such a situation during the week, went in on defense and leaped up to make the interception, leaving Atlanta one win away from the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Ryan had a couple of interceptions, but threw three touchdown passes, tying a Falcons playoff record. He completed 24 of 35 for 250 yards — the first time he's eclipsed 200 yards in the postseason.
The scoring passes were 1-yarder to Gonzalez, who made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone; a 47-yarder to Roddy White that stretched the lead to 20-0 late in the second quarter; and a 5-yarder to Jason Snelling, a quick throw after a fake pitch to Jones, gave the Falcons a seemingly comfortable edge late in the third period.
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. Ryan's second interception, an ill-advised deep throw into double coverage, helped keep the Seahawks alive.
But the Seahawks will likely spend the offseason kicking themselves for that last Falcons' drive, and for squandering two scoring chances in the first half.
On fourth-and-1 at the Atlanta 11, Seattle passed on a field goal and a chance to give the ball to Lynch, their beast of a back. Fullback Michael Robinson was stuffed for a 1-yard loss by safety William Moore.
With the clock winding down before halftime, Seattle used all its timeouts and wound up regretting it when Wilson was sacked by Jonathan Babineaux at the Atlanta 20. Time ran out before the Seahawks could get off another play, sending Atlanta to the locker room still up by 20.
Turns out, the game was just getting started.
NOTES: The Falcons played the second half without defensive end John Abraham, who re-injured his right ankle. No word whether he'll be able to play next week. ... Lynch was held to 46 yards on 16 carries. ... Atlanta rushed for a season-high 167 yards behind Michael Turner (98) and Jacquizz Rodgers (64).
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