Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By JAY CLEMONS  |  Last updated 11/10/13
ATLANTA Heading into Sunday's game, the Seahawks had successfully been living on the edge for a good chunk of the season. So, why would Seattle abandon that go-for-broke mentality in a game that was already firmly in hand? With eight ticks left on the clock and his team holding a 16-3 lead right before halftime, head coach Pete Carroll could have easily instructed kicker Steven Hauschka to extend Seattle's advantage with a chip-shot field goal of 23 yards. Instead, he allowed quarterback Russell Wilson to execute a time-consuming corner pass to Golden Tate a sequence that would have surely vanquished the clock (precluding any field-goal attempts), if any problems arose with Wilson's delivery ... or Tate's path to the back end zone. However, in this dream slate of 10 games, including Seattle's 33-10 romp of Atlanta at the Georgia Dome, nearly every risky venture has come up roses for a Seahawks club (9-1) that's doubly focused on claiming the NFC West title and keeping the New Orleans Saints (6-2) at bay, in the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. "Wow, what a game! We knew we had a long road trip coming here and had an emphasis on that in practice, and I think it was our most complete game of the year," gushed Carroll in the post-game media scrum. "We couldn't wait to get out on the football field. We were rock solid in all three phases: "Defense played well with the exception of those penalties, the guys played great. On offense, we really hoped we turned the corner in the running game." With the Falcons primed for an all-out blitz from their 6, the Seahawks' Wilson coolly collected the shotgun snap and lofted an accurate rainbow to Tate, who secured the ball with one hand ... while dragging both feet, amid textbook defensive coverage. "I ran a decent route. Russell (Wilson) was pretty sold, either I was getting it or no one was getting it and I had to have some discipline," recalled Tate of the scoring pass. "I knew if I had jumped he was going to push me out of bounds so what the heck, why not? "It was a great ball, the ball was dry, and a great play was made," said the humble Tate, who caught six balls for 106 yards and one TD (all team highs). With the touchdown, boosting the club's lead to 23-3, Seattle had transformed a seemingly close game into a rout. And within Tate's end-zone celebration, NFL fans and pundits might have conjured up thoughts of a Reverse Murphy's Law ... as in: Whatever can go right, probably will. Here's a capsule review of Seattle's good fortune to date: Week 1: A fourth-quarter touchdown from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse lifts the Seahawks over the Panthers on the road. Week 4: An ill-advised, late-game pass from Texans QB Matt Schaub leads to a pick-six from Richard Sherman and subsequent overtime victory in Houston. Week 8: Seattle surrenders 200 yards rushing to a St. Louis offense helmed by career backup QB Kellen Clemens ... and escapes with a last-second victory thanks to a goal-line stand as time expired. Week 9: The Seahawks fall behind the winless Bucs 21-0 in the first half ... before storming back for a 27-24 victory in overtime the, uh, greatest comeback win in franchise history. OK, so the Seahawks didn't really need a Wilson-to-Tate touchdown in the first half to beat the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta's season had been going south long before Seattle boarded a plane to seek revenge from last year's playoff loss to the Falcons. But it certainly helped debunk the notion of the Seahawks being merely average on the road, as if the team's rushing and defensive superpowers could only be accessed at CenturyLink Field, perhaps the NFL's loudest stadium. On this day, running back Marshawn Lynch rummaged for 161 total yards (145 rushing) and one touchdown. "I think Marshawn definitely sets the tempo for us that's just how he is," said Carroll, who has already has 20 regular-season victories since September 2012. "(Marshawn) has been playing so consistently. I dont know if you could see it from the sidelines ... but he had some great catches. "(Lynch) just continues to play consistent and make the plays. He is our guy and we are counting on him." Additionally, the Seahawks defense (two sacks, one fumble recovery, 226 total yards allowed) was so dominant that Falcons QB Matt Ryan didn't even cross the 100-yard passing threshold until seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. As a consequence, Falcons stars Roddy White (one catch, 20 yards) and tight end Tony Gonzalez (three catches, 29 yards) meekly combined for four receptions and 49 yards; and running back Steven Jackson tallied only 20 total yards on 12 touches. "Seattle did a really good job of having a defense scheme for us overall," said Jackson, who has averaged only 48 yards in four games with Atlanta. "X's and O's, I think they did a really good job of executing their game plan on how they wanted to tackle us as an offensive unit and against our run game." Jackson, who missed substantial time to a hamstring injury before last week's return, was then asked if he was frustrated with his new club's 2-7 start. "Of course, I'm frustrated." Falcons head coach Mike Smith echoed his back's sentiments, to a degree. "We just physically didn't win the line of scrimmage today, on both sides of the football," said Smith, who has lost three straight home games for the first time his head-coaching career. "It's definitely not the type of football we're accustomed to playing around here a lot of disappointed people. Every season is it own entity, of course. But very few NFL observers from objective media to subjective fans could have foreseen the Falcons' fall from grace, after finishing roughly 10 yards short of a Super Bowl berth last January. For the most part, veteran-laden, pressure-tested clubs don't disintegrate this quickly; and yet, that's how things have played out for the 2013 campaign. From the season-opening loss to the Saints where Ryan and Co. were a stone's throw from pulling out a last-second victory at the Superdome to the mistake-filled efforts against the Dolphins, Jets, Cardinals and Panthers, the Falcons have compressed three years' worth of misery into a three-month window. And Sunday's loss, while not surprising in the big picture, might have initiated the next phase of Atlanta's nightmare season: That point of realization where the injury-depleted, emotionally sapped Falcons might not be competitive for the remaining seven games. It's a daunting stretch for Atlanta roadies to Tampa Bay, Toronto (against the Bills), Green Bay and San Francisco along with home tilts against the Saints, Redskins and Panthers. For the NFC-leading Seahawks, they'll have a greater sense of their playoff-seeding fate over the next four Sundays, most notably the back-to-back showdowns with the Saints (Week 13) and 49ers (Week 14) in December. Leading up to that mini-gauntlet, Seattle draws a home date with 2-7 Minnesota and then a well-deserved bye. As a result, the temptation to play receiver Percy Harvin (recovering from hip surgery) probably won't kick until December ... knowing that a healthy Harvin could be a difference-maker during the playoffs. Besides, it's not like Seattle has a barren cupboard with Harvin and Sidney Rice (season-ending knee injury) on the sidelines. Russell Wilson (307 total yards, two TDs) had Tate, Doug Baldwin (five catches, 76 yards) and Kearse (three catches, 75 yards, one TD) heavily involved in the game plan. At least until the final result had become academic.
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