There might not have been many high-fives being passed around the Falcons locker room, but they certainly weren’t going to be apologizing for picking up a needed victory.
“We got a win and we’re getting on out of here,” Peterson said.
Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Matt Bryant helped stake Atlanta to a 27-7 lead, then watched as Seattle mounted a furious rally only to fall short in the final seconds of the Falcons’ 30-27 win over the Seahawks on Sunday.
Seattle (1-3) drove for a potential winning score in the final 2 minutes, but coach Pete Carroll decided for a 61-yard field goal attempt from Steven Hauschka on fourth down with 13 seconds left instead of trying to get the 8 yards needed. Hauschka’s kick was short and wide left and left Carroll facing questions about whether he made the right move.
“I wanted to give us a chance to win it,” Carroll said. “If we get the ball knocked down or something doesn’t happen and we come up short on fourth down, then we don’t get a shot to win the game.”
Ryan finished 28 of 42 for 291 yards and a 1-yard TD pass to Tony Gonzalez on Atlanta’s first possession. Turner had TD runs of 21 and 1 yards and Bryant kicked three field goals.
Bryant’s 50-yard field goal on the opening possession of the second half gave Atlanta (2-2) a 20-point cushion. That seemed like plenty against a Seattle offense that until that point had scored a total of 37 points in three games and one half.
Then it all flipped.
“I don’t know,” Peterson said. “They went in and made some adjustments, started playing better ball and we probably didn’t play as well as we should have.”
Seattle went to a no-huddle offense and caught the Falcons by surprise. Tarvaris Jackson finally found a rhythm after three weeks of floundering and Seattle’s offense was unstoppable.
They scored touchdowns on three of four possessions to start the second half. The only time they didn’t score was on a ball that tight end Zach Miller caught at the goal line, only to have it popped out of his hands by Atlanta safety James Sanders and into the arms of Thomas DeCoud for an interception.
“Once we focus in and execute, it’s hard to stop us,” Jackson said. “I felt like any time we got the ball, we just knew they couldn’t stop us.”
Jackson threw touchdown passes of 6 yards to Mike Williams and 8 yards to Ben Obomanu sandwiched around an 11-yard TD run from Marshawn Lynch. Seattle scored 21 points in just under 17 minutes of game time.
Jackson finished 25 of 38 for a career-high 319 yards and three touchdowns, including a 52-yard TD pass to Sidney Rice — Seattle’s one offensive highlight in the first half.
After Obomanu’s touchdown with 8:13 left, Atlanta went on its most important drive of the game, even though it didn’t result in any points.
Atlanta converted three times on third down as they ate up more than six minutes. One conversion came on a penalty and another on a completion to Gonzalez. But the biggest conversion came with 4:05 left when Ryan ran for 10 yards.
The first down ran an extra two minutes off the clock before Atlanta was forced to punt, and Seattle took over with 1:49 remaining at its 15 with just one timeout remaining.
Ryan finished with another 26 yards rushing — more than Seattle starting running back Marshawn Lynch — and the Falcons were 9 of 16 on third down.
“You have to do what you have to do. Certainly not the way that we design things or not my intention when the ball is snapped,” Ryan said. “Sometimes that’s the way it shakes out. A couple of times in the second half Seattle had really good coverage and guys locked up and fortunately they don’t have a spy or anything like that for me.”
When he took over with 1:49 left, Jackson quickly got Seattle near midfield. The Seahawks caught a break with 41 seconds to go when referee Walt Anderson was buzzed to review the previous completion to Doug Baldwin and stopped the clock.
Rice was later flagged for a false start. The 5 yards proved huge, as a completion to Miller got Seattle to the Atlanta 43 with 16 seconds remaining, but Jackson was hurried on third down and threw incomplete.
Instead of going for it on fourth down, Carroll sent out Hauschka for the lengthy attempt.
Hauschka’s career long is 54 yards. The longest kick ever made at Seattle’s home stadium is 55 yards.
“It was definitely makable, but it was a tough kick. It was into the wind. It wasn’t real warm out there so the ball wasn’t going as far as it could,” Hauschka said. “At altitude or in warm weather, that’s a different kick than it was today. It was definitely makable, and I’m glad we got a shot to win the game there at the end, and the next time we’ll make it.”
Notes: Williams left with a concussion suffered on Lynch’s TD run. Seattle also lost LB Matt McCoy with a knee injury in the first quarter. … Atlanta remained perfect (5-0) on the West Coast since Smith took over as coach. … Ryan’s 26 yards rushing tied a career high. … Seattle plays just once at home (Oct. 30 vs. Cincinnati) until Nov. 13. … Turner finished with 70 yards on 26 carries, but had just 15 yards in the second half. … Nine different Seahawks caught passes from Jackson. Baldwin led Seattle with five catches for 84 yards.