The Falcons are one win away from the Super Bowl after a dominant performance today against the overmatched Seahawks.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan showed his MVP form, and the defense largely held Russell Wilson, Thomas Rawls and company in check, as the Falcons beat the Seahawks 36-20.
It was a win that showcased Ryan as perhaps the best player in the NFL right now, a win that gave Falcons receiver Julio Jones a big personal victory over Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, and a win that has to give the Falcons confidence that they can be title contenders. Jones limped off the field during the game as a result of an aggravated foot injury, and if that limits him next week it would be a problem for the Falcons, although Jones didn’t appear to be too badly hurt.
It was also a Seattle loss in which the Seahawks had a lot of unforced errors, including big penalties, defensive breakdowns and an offensive line that couldn’t protect Wilson and once even tripped him in the end zone for a safety. That offensive line — the lowest-paid line in football by a wide margin — was a weakness of the Seahawks all season. Building an offensive line on the cheap didn’t work, and that failure cost the Seahawks.
And it was a loss that saw Seahawks coach Pete Carroll make some highly questionable game management decisions, including repeatedly punting on fourth-and-short when his team needed to keep the ball and sustain a drive.
The already depleted Seahawks secondary was depleted further when cornerback DeShawn Shead was carted to the locker room with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, and that Seattle secondary just wasn’t able to hold Ryan in check.
Next week the Falcons will either travel to Dallas or host the Packers, depending on the result of tomorrow’s NFC playoff game. Either way, it’s a game the Falcons can win. Especially with the way Ryan is playing. He’s a quarterback who can put a team on his back and take them to a championship.