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Road Games Travel Tips: Georgia on my way

Week 8: Seattle at Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 27, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 10 a.m. Pacific

SPONSORED – I’ve been known to take two suits in Atlanta.

Two very different types of suits, though.

One had a zippered jacket, an elastic waistband and a polyester feel. That’s my purple jumpsuit worn to cheer on my alma mater, the University of Washington, for a pair of games the Huskies have played in Atlanta over the past three seasons. The first was December 31, 2016 when the Huskies took on Alabama in a semifinal playoff game and then again last year when Washington began the season against Auburn.

I’ve also worn a more conventional suit. The kind with three buttons on the jacket, paired with a tie and worn to cover professional football professionally as a journalist. (Just between you and me: Rooting for the Huskies was waaaaaaay more fun.)

But while Atlanta is a long way from Seattle, Alaska Airlines makes it easy with two non-stop flights per day. Not only that, Atlanta is a heck of a city, a place that likes its biscuits soft and its tea sweet. And before we go any further, let me say that the Horseradish Grill is a must for anyone wanting to taste Southern cuisine at its finest, and Atlanta should have a special place in the hearts of Seattle football fans. It’s where the pro football team found out just how good it could be.

This was back in January 2013, and Seattle was coming off a victory in Washington D.C. It was Seattle’s first road playoff victory in 30 years, but it was what happened a week later that truly showed everyone – including the players – how close the team was to being great.

For the first two quarters in Atlanta, Seattle was getting handled. Atlanta led 20-0 at halftime and 27-7 with just under 3 minutes left in the third quarter. It seemed like the classic case of a team running out of gas.

And then Seattle suddenly found traction, scoring two touchdowns in the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter. Then – in the final minute – Seattle scored its third touchdown of the final period and took a one-point lead with 34 seconds left.

It didn’t hold up. Two completions from Atlanta set up a field goal on the final play and the joy of Seattle’s comeback turn to ash as did a trip to San Francisco to play for the conference championship.

The dinner that night was memorable, but not because of where we ate. We were at a fairly forgettable sports bar that served fries with everything. But what I won’t forget is the feeling that night as the disappointment of Seattle’s loss missed with the excitement of what would come next.

A year later, Seattle won the first championship in franchise history. Will Atlanta be a similar launching point this season?

Arrival: Alaska has two non-stops daily from Sea-Tac to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, which is an exceptionally busy airport that also happens to have great public transportation options both to and from the airport.

Stadium: This will be Seattle’s first game in Atlanta’s new stadium, which opened in 2017 and has a roof that can be opened. The stadium looks futuristic – almost robotic – from the outside, and inside features top-tier amenities. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the stadium food affordable, but it is very reasonable compared to concessions in other cities.

Last time here: Seattle last played in Atlanta on Jan. 14, 2017 in the divisional round of the playoffs. Seattle scored first and led 10-7 in the second quarter when Devin Hester – yep, he was in Seattle – reeled off an 80-yard punt return that gave Seattle the ball at the Atlanta 7. A holding penalty against Kevin Pierre-Louis negated the return, however, and Seattle’s offense shorted out while Atlanta scored on its next four possessions en route to a 36-20 victory.

Dining: Horseradish Grill (4320 Powers Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta, 30342) specializes in classic Southern cuisine in a cozy setting at a restaurant that has been operating since 1946. It’s absolutely terrific. King + Duke (3060 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, 30305) draws its name from two characters in Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Fin” and a 24-foot open hearth gives the restaurant its signature, which is cooking over wood fire. The pumpkin pie is nothing short of incredible.