By The Sports Xchange
SEATTLE — Kicker Steven Hauschka finished off a frustrating day with a 44-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining as the Seattle Seahawks survived a furious second half from the Atlanta offense to beat the Falcons 26-24 on Sunday afternoon.
Hauschka, who missed a field-goal attempt and had the potential score-tying extra-point blocked in the fourth quarter, capped off the winning drive after teammate Earl Thomas intercepted a Matt Ryan pass with 3:48 remaining.
The Falcons (4-2) had one more chance, but Ryan threw four incompletions on the final drive — including a last-gasp throw toward go-to receiver Julio Jones that saw Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman grab his arm but not get flagged for pass interference on what would result in the Falcons’ final offensive play with 1:30 remaining.
Seattle (4-1) gave up 276 yards of offense in the second half, losing star defensive end Michael Bennett to a knee injury in the process.
After the Falcons blocked the potential score-tying extra point with 4:43 remaining, the Seahawks got another chance when Thomas intercepted a Ryan pass at midfield with 3:48 remaining.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson made a key third-down completion on the ensuing drive, escaping two Atlanta pass rushers to hit Alex Collins for a nine-yard gain. Three plays later, Hauschka nailed the game-winning field goal.
Wilson completed 25 of 37 passes for 270 yards. Atlanta’s Ryan completed 27 of 42 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
Atlanta rallied from a 14-point halftime lead to score 21 unanswered points during a third quarter that saw the Falcons pile up 252 yards of offense. Ryan’s third touchdown pass of the game, a 46-yarder to tight end Levine Toilolo, gave Atlanta its first lead at 24-17 with 17 seconds left in the third.
The Seahawks came back to pull within 24-23 on a Christine Michael 1-yard run with 4:43 remaining, but Hauschka, who missed a field goal earlier in the half, had his extra point try blocked by Atlanta lineman Ra’Shede Hageman to keep the Falcons in front. Michael’s run capped off a nine-play, 70-yard drive that included a costly pass-interference penalty on Falcons cornerback Robert Alford near the goal line.
Atlanta completed back-to-back passes to open its next drive before a Ryan pass went off the hands of Falcons receiver Jones and resulted in a tide-turning interception at midfield.
Atlanta’s third-quarter onslaught came against a Seattle defense that spent part of the early second half battling itself on the sideline. Sherman had to be separated from a teammate after the Falcons’ first touchdown of the half, and the Seahawks’ defense struggled mightily on the two drives that followed.
The Falcons opened the second half with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Jones. That cut the Seattle lead to 17-10 and set off a heated incident on the Seahawks’ sideline. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who had shadowed Jones for most of the afternoon but was covering an inside receiver when Jones scored, had to be restrained from going after teammate Kelcie McCray on the sideline. Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas were among the Seattle players trying to prevent Sherman from getting to McCray, who got beat by Jones on the touchdown.
Things quickly got worse for Seattle, which gave up another long drive while losing Bennett to a knee injury a few minutes later. Ryan completed 4 of 6 passes for 50 yards, hitting Mohamed Sanu on a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie the score 17-17 with 6:11 remaining. Bennett hurt his right knee chasing Ryan on the play and had to be helped off the field.
Bennett went into the locker room for tests and did not return to action.
Rookie running back Alex Collins scored his first career touchdown as Seattle took a 17-3 lead into halftime. Collins’s 2-yard run with 4:32 remaining in the first half capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive to give the Seahawks a 14-3 lead. Kicker Steven Hauschka added a 42-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half.
Over the opening 30 minutes, the Seahawks held the NFL’s No. 1-ranked offense to 86 yards.
The Seahawks took advantage of a first-quarter turnover to jump out to a 7-0 lead. Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril forced a Matt Ryan fumble on the first of his two sacks, resulting in a turnover at Atlanta’s 9-yard line. The Seahawks scored one play later on a 9-yard Christine Michael run, which came with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter.
The Falcons scored their first points on a Matt Bryant 33-yard field goal with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half, cutting the deficit to 7-3.
NOTES: Seattle S Kam Chancellor (groin) was among the Seahawks players who did not suit up. Chancellor strained his groin in practice the previous week and was considered a game-time decision. Also inactive was DE Frank Clark, who suffered a hamstring injury at practice leading up to the game. … The Falcons lost WR Taylor Gabriel to a third-quarter concussion and CB C.J. Goodwin to a hamstring that kept him off the field for most of the second half. Seattle TE Luke Willson hurt his knee late in the fourth quarter and did not return. … Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn did two stints as a Seahawks assistant coach. He was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. … Falcons CB Desmond Trufant grew up in Tacoma, a few miles south of Seattle, and attended college at the University of Washington. His older brother, Marcus, spent 10 years playing for the Seahawks.