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Turnovers team up with injuries, penalties to hold Seahawks back in 34-31 loss to Falcons

The Falcons had two key takeaways against Russell Wilson in the first half. (AP)

The Seahawks fell short against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, and has been the case for much of this season, penalties and injuries were to blame.

But that wasn’t all that went wrong for Seattle.

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A pair of turnovers by Russell Wilson – an interception in the first quarter and a fumble on a sack in the second – contributed to a poor start for the Seahawks in their 34-31 loss, as they were turned into 14 points for Atlanta. There were also three points left on the board due to a failed fake field goal just before halftime that would have been enough to tie the game for Seattle, and a 52-yard field goal attempt by Blair Walsh in the final seconds just didn’t have enough behind it.

As for the usual culprits, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and running back Mike Davis were among the key injuries for Seattle, and the team gouged itself by committing nine penalties for 106 yards.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each quarter of the defeat for the Seahawks, who dropped to 6-4.

FIRST QUARTER

Falcons 14, Seahawks 7

Good starts have been elusive for the Seahawks this season, and the beginning to this one was particularly inauspicious. Seattle quickly fell in a 14-0 hole as Atlanta scored touchdowns on a pair of seven-play drives, the first starting near midfield thanks to a 50-yard return by Andre Roberts on the opening kickoff, and the second at Seattle’s 35 after Desmond Trufant picked off Russell Wilson and went 40 yards on the return. Seattle got back within striking distance, however, putting together a nine-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to tight end Jimmy Graham.

Notable: The Seahawks can ill afford any more injuries to a secondary already missing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin was led back to the locker room during the first series after getting shaken up on a tackle.

ATL – Tevin Coleman 1 run, 11:59 (Matt Bryant kick, 7-0 ATL)
ATL – Mohamed Sanu 2 pass from Matt Ryan, 7:52 (Bryant kick, 14-0 ATL)
SEA – Jimmy Graham 4 pass from Russell Wilson, 2:55 (Blair Walsh kick, 14-7 ATL)

SECOND QUARTER

Falcons 24, Seahawks 17

The Seahawks showed late last month that they could keep up in a shootout when they bested the Houston Texans 41-38, and they found themselves in a similar situation against the Falcons. They were struggling to keep the turnovers in check, however, which is how the Falcons first found the end zone in the second quarter, Adrian Clayborn returning the ball 10 yards after an Atlanta strip sack of Russell Wilson. That was the second takeaway for Atlanta, both of which led to seven points for the Falcons. Seattle proved it could move the ball on its other drives in the quarter, though, making a trip to the red zone on each of its next two possessions. On the first, the Seahawks had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Blair Walsh, but Wilson was able to score on a QB keeper on 4th-and-goal from the 1 on the second to make it a 21-17 game. Atlanta responded with a 44-yard field goal by Matt Bryant to push its lead back to seven points with just over a minute left, and while the Seahawks rushed back down the field to set up a 35-yard field goal attempt, they tried a fake with a shovel pass to Luke Willson. It didn’t work out, presumably because Atlanta coach Dan Quinn, Seattle’s former defensive coordinator, had an idea it was coming.

Notable: Seattle defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (ankle) and defensive end Dion Jordan (arm) both had to get checked out on the sideline. Cornerback Jeremy Lane also took a shot to his arm but remained in the game.

ATL – Adrian Clayborn 10 fumble return, 14:04 (Bryant kick, 21-7 ATL)
SEA – Walsh 30 FG, 8:11 (21-10 ATL)
SEA – Wilson 1 run, 5:21 (Walsh kick, 21-17 ATL)
ATL – Bryant 44 FG, 1:06 (24-17 ATL)

THIRD QUARTER

Falcons 31, Seahawks 23

The Seahawks sure seem snake-bitten this season at running back. Mike Davis, who had 59 total yards on two receptions and six rushes in his first game since a promotion from the practice squad, was ruled out for the rest of the game due to a groin injury during the frame. That left the Seahawks with Eddie Lacy and J.D. McKissic to run the ball, as Thomas Rawls was a healthy scratch on Seattle’s inactives list and Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise are both on Injured Reserve. As if the injury to Davis wasn’t bad enough, the Seahawks saw their deficit increase as they were stuck settling for field goals while Atlanta found the end zone in the third quarter on an impressive catch by Levine Toilolo. Russell Wilson was doing his part at least, accounting for 239 of Seattle’s 285 yards of total offense (179 passing, 60 rushing) entering the final 15 minutes.

SEA – Walsh 37 FG, 11:21 (ATL 24-20)
ATL – Levine Toilolo 25 pass from Ryan, 7:24 (Bryant kick, ATL 31-20)
SEA – Walsh 46 FG, 1:40 (ATL 31-23)

FOURTH QUARTER

Falcons 34, Seahawks 31

The Seahawks picked a good time to hold the Falcons to a three-and-out for the first time on the night, coming on the series after Doug Baldwin caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham added a two-point conversion catch to make it a three-point game with three minutes to go. A sack by Sheldon Richardson, his first with Seattle, was what forced Atlanta to punt on its final possession of the game. And while Seattle had a shot with one last drive, it couldn’t get any closer than a 52-yard field goal attempt for Blair Walsh that he just couldn’t get enough leg into. The Seahawks had received a break earlier when a Tevin Coleman touchdown run was called back after a review, though the Falcons instead kicked a field goal to move into a 11-point lead with about four minutes to go.

ATL – Bryant 19 FG, 3:49 (ATL 34-23)
SEA – Doug Baldwin 29 pass from Wilson, 3:00 (Graham pass from Wilson, ATL 34-31)