By Danny O’Neil
ATLANTA – This Seahawks victory was punctuated with a period instead of a question mark.
Seattle 33, Atlanta 10.
A simple, declarative statement with no need for either clarification or concern. No worry about the margin of victory or the way these Seahawks looked in a game that was simply the most straightforward victory Seattle has had since beating Jacksonville in Week 3.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for a season-high 145 yards and a score. (AP) | More photos
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson threw for 287 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Seattle scored on a trick play, kicked its longest field goal of the year and punted exactly twice during a no-muss, no-fuss dispatching of the Falcons team that bounced Seattle from the playoffs last season.
The Seahawks gained 490 yards, while the Falcons had 226.
Seattle may not have been healthy as center Max Unger and defensive end Red Bryant were both inactive after suffering concussions last week, but the Seahawks certainly got better. They protected Wilson as well as they have all season, they stifled Atlanta’s ground game and Lynch was the single biggest force as Seattle made the Falcons look like the two-win team they are this season.
Atlanta didn’t get the ball inside the Seattle 20 until the third quarter, and that was only because of a penalty.
The significance: At 9-1, Seattle has the best record in the NFC with four of its final six games to be played at home. The Seahawks are 5-1 on the road, matching the franchise record for road victories in a season. Seattle was 5-3 on the road in 1984 and again in 2005.
Play of the game: Wilson is credited for the touchdown pass, but it was Marshawn Lynch’s throw – wobbly as it was – that made Seattle’s second-quarter trick play possible. He took the handoff, ran to his right and threw back to Wilson, who look almost like a middle infielder turning a double play as he turned his eyes downfield and threw a strike to Jermaine Kearse, who was being defended one-on-one. The result: a 43-yard touchdown.
Turning point: Atlanta had the ball at its own 20, trailing by 13 points with 1:52 left in the first half. Three plays and less than a minute later, the Falcons were punting to the Seahawks, who had a solid punt return followed up by a 60-yard touchdown drive, culminating in Golden Tate’s 6-yard touchdown catch with 1 second left. So not only did the Falcons blow a chance to cut into that 13-point lead, they allowed the Seahawks to add a touchdown to it.
Player of the game: Lynch had a season-high with 145 rushing yards, but Tate gets the nod for his five catches for 98 yards, including an incredible touchdown grab with 1 second left in the first half. He also had 55 yards worth of punt returns.
The good: Seattle scored first, something it failed to do either of the past two games. Seattle drove 48 yards in 11 plays, culminating in Steven Hauschka’s 39-yard field goal. It was the seventh time in 10 games this season Seattle scored first. Kearse caught two passes in the first half, one for a 43-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Kearse has 12 receptions this season, four resulting in touchdowns. Hauschka made three field goals in the first half and that was just a warmup. He kicked a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter, his longest kick as a Seahawk. He has made 12 consecutive field-goal attempts since having that attempt blocked in Indianapolis last month. Lynch had a 37-yard run, his second-longest of the season. Seattle scored 23 points in the first half, second-most in the opening half of any game this season.
The bad: Hard to find much to complain about in a game where Seattle punted only once in the first three quarters. Alvin Bailey entered the game at left tackle on some third-down plays in the first three quarters and also played some right guard in place of J.R. Sweezy in the third quarter. Seattle let Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan run 10 yards for a first down midway through the second quarter.
The ugly: Lynch’s throw back to Wilson on that second-quarter trick play. The pass wobbled and may have even honked it was such a duck, but Wilson caught it cleanly, turned downfield and completed a 43-yard pass to Kearse for the game’s first touchdown.
Go figure: In the first 23:30 of the first half, Seattle gained 126 yards and scored six points. In the final 6:30? How about 189 yards and 17 points.
Seattle: CB Brandon Browner suffered a groin injury and did not return. DT Tony McDaniel suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return.
Seattle: S Jeron Johnson, FB Derrick Coleman, T Breno Giacomini, C Max Unger, DE Red Bryant, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Jordan Hill.
Atlanta: RB Josh Vaughan, S Kemal Ishmael, LB Thomas Howard, G Harland Gunn, T Sam Baker, WR Brian Robiskie, DE Cliff Matthews.