They — whoever they is — say that football is a game of inches. “They” on Monday could be Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh.

Walsh’s game-tying field-goal attempt with seven seconds left fell just short of the crossbar. Instead of celebrating a 52-yard field goal to send the game into overtime, the Seahawks were left to ponder “what if.”

Walsh’s miss allowed Atlanta to hang on for a 34-31 victory in one of the most entertaining games of the season.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will have to answer postgame questions about two curious decisions.

With seven seconds left in the first half and facing a fourth-and-one at the Atlanta 17, Seattle inexplicably tried a fake field goal. Tight end Luke Willson was tackled for a 4-yard loss by Grady Jarrett. Then, early in the fourth quarter, Carroll challenged an obvious incompletion to Doug Baldwin, losing a timeout that the Seahawks needed in their comeback attempt.

Russell Wilson gave them a chance anyway.

The Seahawks quarterback had seven rushes for 86 yards and completed 26 of 42 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The Seahawks trailed 34-23 with 3:49 remaining, but scored a touchdown and a 2-point conversion in only 49 seconds. Wilson scrambled for 16 yards, threw to Jimmy Graham for 11 yards, threw to J.D. McKissic for 4 yards and got 15 yards on a late hit out of bounds by Keanu Neal before an incompletion and a 29-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin. Graham caught the two-point conversion.

The Seahawks got the ball back with 1:46 remaining after forcing a three-and-out and Wilson, who has 19 career game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, drove them from their own 25 to the Atlanta 34. With no timeouts and seven seconds remaining, Carroll initially left his offense on the field. Then, he thought better of it and sent out Walsh.

Walsh, who had a career long of 56 yards and a season long of 49 yards, came up just short . . . to the relief of the Falcons.

The Falcons of 2017 finally look something like the Falcons of 2016. After back-to-back victories over the Cowboys and Seahawks, Atlanta has sent a message not to count it out just yet.

The Falcons (6-4) are two games behind the Saints and one game behind the Panthers in the NFC South.

Matt Ryan completed 19 of 27 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, and Julio Jones caught five passes for 71 yards. Adrian Clayborn, who had six sacks of Dak Prescott last week, scored a touchdown on a 10-yard fumble return in the first half.