Found January 13, 2013 on
Fox Sports South:
ATLANTA -- Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left and the Atlanta Falcons bounced back after blowing a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, defeating Russell Wilson and the gutty Seattle Seahawks 30-28 in an NFC divisional playoff game Sunday.
The Falcons (14-3) appeared ready to allow the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL playoff history when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left.
But Matt Ryan completed two long passes after the kickoff, setting up Bryant's winning kick and sending the Falcons to the NFC championship game for only the third time in franchise history. They will host the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.
Wilson passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, but it wasn't enough for the Seahawks (12-6).
"Wow!" said Falcons coach Mike Smith.
Wilson finished with 385 yards passing and did all he could to lead the Seahawks back from a 27-7 deficit entering the fourth quarter. When Lynch powered over in the final minute, a play set up by the rookie quarterback's brilliant scramble, Seattle celebrated like it would be moving on.
Not so fast.
Ryan, who had struggled in his first three playoff appearances, had just enough time to rally the Falcons. He hooked up with Harry Douglas on a 29-yard pass in front of the Falcons bench, and Smith quickly signaled a timeout. Then, Ryan went down the middle to his favorite target, tight end Tony Gonzalez, a Hall of Famer-to-be playing what could've been his final game.
Gonzalez hauled in the 19-yard throw, and Smith called his final timeout with 13 seconds remaining. Instead of risking another play and having the clock run out, he sent Bryant in for the field goal try.
The Seahawks called time just before the ball was snapped, and Bryant's kick sailed right of the upright. That turned out to be nothing more than practice. The next one was right down the middle, giving the Falcons a stunning victory.
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.'"
The Falcons won the first playoff game of the Ryan era, having gone one-and-done in his previous appearances to give the team -- and its quarterback -- a reputation for excelling in the regular season but choking in the postseason. Not anymore. Atlanta is one win away from the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Ryan threw three touchdown passes and overcame two interceptions, finishing 24 of 35 for a personal-best 250 yards in the postseason. He threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez, a 47-yarder to Roddy White and a 5-yarder to Snelling, the latter with 2:11 left in the third quarter to give the Falcons a seemingly commanding lead.
No team had ever rallied from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. Wilson nearly pulled it off, 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 went all the way to the Falcons 3 after the quarterback spun away from rushing Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
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AROUND THE WEB
Here are some Falcons-centric grades from the club's thrilling 30-28 win over the Seahawks in Sunday's NFC divisional playoff:
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson may have set a single-game franchise playoff record for passing yards (385) -- while running for 60 yards and score -- but history will fondly remember Matt Ryan (250 yards passing, three TDs) for...
The wait is over. Matt Ryan has finally won a playoff game. The Falcons QB finished with 250 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions Sunday in a 30-28 win over Seattle.Fantasy Spin:Ryan was especially impressive on the game's final drive, leading the Falcons 41 yards downfield to set up Matt Bryant's game-winning field goal. Ryan will have a chance to play in his first...
Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant has been great all season. He recently shared his secret for making big kicks with a radio show.
My stomach hurts. I’m sure Matt Ryan’s does too, after finally receiving a taste of his first playoff win since the Falcons drafted him in 2008.
Regardless of the solid 20-0 Atlanta lead at the end of the first half, the game was not decided until Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s final heave to the end-zone was intercepted by WR Julio Jones with 0 seconds left on...
In a game that mirrored a classic heavyweight title fight, the Falcons survived the Seahawks' second-half surge to score the first playoff win for Mike Smith, Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez.
Matt Ryan threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez as the Falcons took advantage of a fumble by Seattle's Marshawn Lynch to lead the Seahawks 10-0 after the first quarter of Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game.
The Falcons overcame an interception by Ryan to stretch their lead. Ryan's pass for Gonzalez was intercepted by Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner...
ATLANTA -- Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith began his post-game press conference the only way he could -- he exhaled. It was a giant sigh of relief from a coach who minutes earlier had watched his team squander a three-score lead in the fourth quarter. It was a huge release of tension from a coach who had never won a playoff game, until Sunday. Matt Ryan threw three touchdown...
The San Francisco 49ers head to Atlanta to face off against the Falcons for a chance to head to Super Bowl XLVII! Will Colin Kaepernick lead the 49ers to victory over Matt Ryan and the Falcons?
After a predictably slow start to the game, Seattle came within seconds of upsetting the Falcons at home. Trailing by 20 points going into the final quarter, Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to an amazing comeback, taking the lead with only 31 seconds remaining to silence a rowdy Atlanta crowd at the Georgia Dome.As most Atlanta fans know though, you should never count Matty Ice out...
It may seem a bit like dodging a pair of difficult questions, but a Patriots, Falcons Super Bowl makes too much sense to ignore. The simple justification for such a prediction is that those teams are fielding the best quarterbacks this weekend, but really, there's much more to it than that.
While Tom Brady and Matt Ryan may be the best passers this weekend, their defenses...
I've been hearing a lot about how the Falcons shouldn't be a problem for the Seahawks, but this game is far from a circled win. I know Atlanta's schedule was relatively soft, but no one puts together a 13-3 record in the modern NFL without doing a lot of things right. And as for them being 0-3 in the playoffs with head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan, that...
What to look for in the battle of the birds
Seattle is red hot. After finishing the regular season on a promising winning streak, the Seattle Seahawks rolled into the nation’s capital and pushed around the Redskins en route to their first road playoff victory since 1983.
Now it’s time to take their show on the road once again and head to HotLanta for a date with the dirty birds...
The first NFL divisional round playoff game this afternoon features one of the hottest teams in the NFL visiting the team that finished the season with the best record in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons. This game features and intriguing matchup of perhaps the best wide receiver pairing going up against the best cornerback duo in the league. Weather obviously will...
Editor Note: the wild playoff win this weekend over the Seattle Seahawks inspired long-time Altanta Falcons fan Alex Webster to write about the great Falcons win:
I have been a Falcons fan since the early 70's when my dad would take me to see them perpetually lose in the old Atlanta Fulton County baseball stadium. You had to be a long time Falcon fan watching the Falcons...