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Week 11 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 34, Seattle Seahawks 31


What you need to know

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta jumped to a 14-0 lead thanks to an opening play kickoff return that crossed midfield, pass interference penalty on a go route to Mohamed Sanu that put the Falcons inside the Seattle, 1, and an interception of Russell Wilson during Seattle’s first series. Seattle entered the game without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor and then lost Sherman’s replacement Shaq Griffin to a concussion during the opening drive. Even so, Atlanta could not generate big plays to Julio Jones and instead went to Sanu, who caught a corner fade for Atlanta’s second touchdown. Atlanta began the game 5-for-5 on third down and the ground game’s output alternated between getting stuffed for losses and gashing the Seahawks up the middle for gains of 5-15 yards. The Falcons defense contributed a touchdown with a sack and fumble return early in the second quarter. However, Seattle closed the 21-7 gap with 10 unanswered points, including a touchdown drive after Andre Roberts muffed a pooch kick. Seattle cut the lead to three with three minutes left, and a minute later, Atlanta nearly gave the game away after its right guard Schweitzer gave up a sack to Sheldon Richardson on 3rd and 3. The play earned Seattle a final drive, but Blair Walsh missed a 52-yard field goal by about 2-3 yards with 2 seconds left.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks may have found a running back … but he got injured. Mike Davis started at RB, played impressively, then left the field in the third quarter with a groin injury. Russell Wilson’s end of game heroics nearly saved the day -- again – but if not for his own early game mistakes, he wouldn’t have had to! Thomas Rawls was a healthy scratch. Eddie Lacy simply cannot break through on short yardage plays (but we knew that, didn’t we?); and Jimmy Graham is Wilson’s first red zone look, nearly every time. J.D. McKissic may be the best candidate, at this point, to be next week’s starting RB.

Atlanta Falcons

QB Matt Ryan, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 27 - 195 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 12 - 0
His most impactful throw of the initial drive was an on-target go route to Mohamed Sanu in the end zone. Seattle cornerback Byron Maxwell defended the route by holding Sanu’s inside arm. This foul put the ball at the Seahawks’ one, and Tevin Coleman capped the drive with a plunge. Hardy caught a low-thrown out on 3rd and 7 to set up a 1st and goal on the second drive. Ryan threw the ball low by design because of the coverage over top. On the next play, he tried to target Marvin Hall from a twin set at the five, but he threw the ball outside of Hall. The ball bounced off Hall into the arms of cornerback Jeremy Lane, who dropped the ball. Two plays later, Ryan found Sanu for a one-hand stab of a fade route in the right corner of the end zone to put Atlanta up 14-0. He later found Sanu for a key third-down conversion during the third drive from a tight pocket. Ryan also avoided pressure later in the game when he broke the pocket for a first down on 3rd and 8 with a 14-yard run up the left flat to reach the Seattle 40. He then hit Jones for a first down on a crossing route with a bootleg left. Ryan finished this drive with a 25-yard throwback to Levine Toilolo on a seam route up the left flat, extending its lead to 11. Late in the game, Ryan took a 3rd and 3 sack from Sheldon Richardson on an inside rush against the right guard Schweitzer. This prevented Atlanta from running out the clock and gave Seattle one last drive that came within about three yards of tying the game.

RB Tevin Coleman, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 43 - 1, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (2 targets)
He took a toss to the left and did a good job of ducking under a wrap for a five-yard gain on a 2nd and 10 during the opening drive of the game. A few plays later, he took a 2nd and 3 run off right tackle for two yards. After the defensive pass interference penalty, Coleman cut inside the Seahawks’ penetration and backed his way through the line for a one-yard plunge to cap the opening drive of the game. Coleman earned three up the middle on 2nd and goal from the 5 during the second offensive drive. Later, Sheldon Richardson sniffed out a misdirection toss and stuffed Coleman for a five-yard loss. Nazair Jones then stuffed Coleman to begin Atlanta’s following drive with a first-down loss of two. After a short gain on 1st and 15, he was stuffed again for a four-loss. None of these plays were Coleman’s fault, but avoiding backfield penetration is not the strength of his game. On the play after the four-yard loss, he bounced off a glancing blow on a middle screen for the first down near midfield. Coleman later dropped a screen pass on 3rd and 11 with 1:11 in the half. He began the second half with a big crease up the right side for a first down and a gain of nearly 10. Coleman bounced a play to right end for five yards on 2nd and 10 with less than a minute left in the third quarter. Coleman earned a first down up right guard through another good hole in the fourth quarter. However on the next play, Michael Bennett stuffed Coleman in the backfield for a loss of two before Coleman could finish his second step past the exchange point. Later in the drive, Coleman spun off the middle of the line to the right side on a 3rd and goal run from the five to get within inches of the goal line with less than five minutes left. Coleman hit left tackle with a decisive run for six yards after Seattle closed the lead to three points. However he was tripped up in the backfield by the safety coming down the line just before the two-minute warning, leading to a third-and-short and Atlanta took a sack that led to a punt.

RB Terron Ward, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 31 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)
He plowed ahead for a few yards up left guard during the third drive. He was dropped for a loss with less than two minutes left off the right side of the field. He began the second half with a two-yard gain on 2nd and 10 up the right side of the line. Ward then began the fourth quarter for Atlanta with a swing pass up the left sideline for 11 yards, shaking his way inside a defender in the flat as he approached the marker. He then got lost in the pile up the middle and emerged seven yards later in the flat and pushed his way through an Earl Thomas wrap for the first down past midfield. He then earned a first down behind his fullback and pushed through a safety’s wrap to twist his way to the Seattle five late in the fourth quarter. Ward ran strong late in the game and filled in admirably in Devonta Freeman’s absence.

WR Julio Jones, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 71 - 0 (10 targets)
He dropped the ball during the opening offensive play after Matt Ryan scrambled to the right. The ball arrived behind Jones, who reached for it but let it through his hands. Jones cut between two defenders on a stutter-comeback route for 16 yards at the right sideline to begin the second Atlanta drive. He earned seven up the right flat late in the first quarter on a hitch. He dropped the ball again on a crossing route against two defenders in the right flat during the third drive. Byron Maxwell pushed Jones out of bounds on a 2nd and 12 streak along the left sideline late in the half for a 23-yard penalty. Lane covered Jones well up the right sideline with 1:30 left in the half on a go route, using his position to pin Jones to the sideline and force an overthrow. He caught a crossing route on a bootleg left to reach the Seattle 25 during the first drive of the second half. He was targeted on a slant against Earl Thomas at the end of the third quarter on a third-down pass from an empty set. Ryan hit Jones against a five-man blitz on a third down in the fourth quarter to get Atlanta to the Seattle 29. Jones earned a step on the cornerback. He was targeted late in the fourth quarter on a 1st and goal drive from the five but he was too tight to the boundary with his route and forced a difficult throw.

WR Mohamed Sanu, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 3 - 34 - 1 (3 targets)
He was the Wild Cat QB on a 3rd and 1 during the opening drive, keeping the ball up the middle for a four-yard gain. On the next play, Sanu extended for the ball over his outside shoulder on a go route in the end zone. He nearly caught the ball but couldn’t retract it. Byron Maxwell interfered with Sanu, holding the WR’s arm and putting the ball at the Seattle 1. Sanu made a one-hand stab on a fade route in the right corner of the end zone to put Atlanta up 14-0. Sanu ran the slant under Jeremy Lane on third down to reach the 36 of Atlanta during the third drive. He earned a first down on a deep cross for 21 yards just before the two-minute warning.

WR Justin Hardy, 17 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (4 targets)
He dug out a 3rd and 5 pass in tight coverage with a diving play on a low throw for the first, first down of the game. He followed up with a short out and worked up the right sideline for a few more for a gain of seven. Hardy caught a low-thrown out on 3rd and 7 to set up a 1st and goal on the second drive. On a 3rd and 8 during Atlanta’s third drive, he initially caught the ball with a leaping high-point against Craphonso Thorpe, but the cornerback knocked the ball loose as Hardy returned to earth. In terms of volume, this was Hardy’s most productive game of the year.

WR Taylor Gabriel, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets)
His first target came with less than two minutes left in the third quarter on a wide receiver screen for no gain. He earned about nine yards on 3rd and 19 on a catch and run in the left flat early in the fourth quarter.

WR Andre Roberts
He took the opening kickoff at the right flat near the numbers a yard deep in the end zone and returned it past the 50 to the opposite sideline. After Seattle closed the 21-7 lead to 11, Roberts muffed a pooch kick and Seattle recovered at the Atlanta 11.

WR Marvin Hall, 8 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Matt Ryan tried to target Hall from a twin set at the Seattle five, but he threw the ball outside of Hall. The target bounced off Hall into the arms of cornerback Jeremy Lane, who dropped the ball.

TE Austin Hooper, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - -1 - 0 (2 targets)
He wasn’t targeted in the first half, but he delivered a good block on a linebacker that sprung Tevin Coleman on a 3rd down passing play to get Atlanta across midfield late in the half. He was stuffed on a TE screen by Bobby Wagner for a two-yard loss on 2nd and 12 near midfield that took Atlanta out of field goal range in the early fourth quarter. Hooper stumbled during his release on a TE screen to the right flat during the next drive and only gained yard on the reception.

TE Levine Toilolo, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 31 - 1 (2 targets)
He began the second half with a six-yard gain in the middle of the field. He capped the drive with a deep seam route from a three-tight end play-action throwback .

TE Eric Saubert, 3 offensive snaps
He committed a false start as part of a three-tight end alignment that put Atlanta back 1st and 15 late in the half.


Seattle Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 42 - 258 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 7 - 86 - 1
Wilson was his own worst enemy in the first quarter, as he gave up an interception and a fumble that led to an easy 14 points for the Falcons. After the first quarter, he picked up the pieces and got to work on a hopeful comeback. It began with a touchdown strike to Jimmy Graham, a frequent red zone target, both today and in recent weeks. Wilson continued to find Graham on short to medium routes, as well as favoring him in the red zone. Though the running game predictably was unimpressive, Wilson had some success on screen passes and swing passes to his running backs, as well as short hitch to Graham when the defense was playing deeper. As usual, Wilson scrambled often, and in catch up mode, he seemed to take off more than usual, resulting in a team leading 86 yards on the ground, which included a short yardage option call that led to his rushing TD. Unsurprisingly, he also leads the team in rushing yards for the season. With four minutes to go in the game, the Seahawks got the ball, down by 11. Wilson drove the team in for a score – a deep strike over the middle to a wide open Doug Baldwin -- with plenty of time left on the clock. He threw a 2 point conversion to (who else?) Jimmy Graham, and the defense got him the ball with over a minute to go. Wilson promptly marched the team into field goal position, but the 52-yard attempt was a couple of yards too long for the kicker, and the game ended before the comeback could come to fruition.

RB J.D. McKissic, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 30 - 0, Rec: 5 - 23 - 0 (6 targets)
McKissic is still a hard one to figure. He lines up all over the place, sometimes setting up as a wide receiver, and other times, running deep routes from out of the backfield. On one such route, Wilson targeted him near the goal line, but the coverage was too good. Still, the level of trust is there if Wilson is willing to give him that kind of shot. The Seahawks seem to know what they have in McKissic, since they rarely ask him to run between the tackles, and he is generally just as active as a receiver as a runner. McKissic showed impressive speed, and was a big play waiting to happen, all game long. His role seems secure, too, as he was called upon ahead of Lacy, even after Davis left the game. They even called his number at the goal line, although they sent him wide on a Jet Sweep play (he was stopped short of the goal line) instead of up the gut.

RB Mike Davis, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 18 - 0, Rec: 2 - 41 - 0 (2 targets)
Davis was brought up off the practice squad and promptly played a large role in the running game, while Thomas Rawls was a healthy scratch. Davis looked at least as good running as Chris Carson did before he got injured, and it was beginning to look like the Seahawks might have found a ground game. Davis also contributed as a receiver, adding 41 yards on two screen plays. Unfortunately, he left the game in the third quarter due to a groin injury. Before the injury, Davis’s power running was making a clear case for a start next week as well.

RB Eddie Lacy, 6 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 2 - 0
Lacy genuinely looked impressive on his first goal line carry, with a good burst at the line. But, he still didn’t make it in. He had a couple more carries after that, each one less impressive than the last. To add insult to injury, later in the game, they took him out of the short yardage package entirely.

WR Paul Richardson, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 56 - 0 (8 targets)
Richardson had a slow but steady day, finishing with a respectable line. All he did was catch everything that was catchable. Most impressive was a first down catch at the sideline, and he expertly dragged his toe to stay in bounds, while catching a seemingly wild throw from Wilson, who at that point was scrambling madly.

WR Tyler Lockett, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (5 targets)
Lockett’s big contribution came as the primary kick returner, in which he consistently gave the Seahawks excellent field position, finishing with 197 yards on five returns. As a receiver, he was looked to early on a few times, on short slot routes, and occasionally as the game wore on. He once again was option 3a/b (behind Baldwin and Graham), in tandem with Paul Richardson, so the fantasy ceiling is pretty low each week, even if his actual contribution to the team is significant.

WR Doug Baldwin, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 40 - 1 (6 targets)
Baldwin’s game was a mixed bag. On one hand, he ceded a lot of targets to Big Jimmy Graham (yes, that’s unofficially Graham’s mobster name); and on the other, Baldwin came through when they needed him, getting wide open for a long touchdown over the middle. Of the missed targets, maybe one was catchable.

TE Jimmy Graham, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 58 - 1 (11 targets)
Graham seems finally to have settled into his role. He was counted on for several short, chain-moving, catches, and heavily leaned on in the red zone. He continues to be a matchup nightmare in the end zone, working his size to make every one of his scores look routine, despite the inevitably tight coverage. Though Graham finished well, with a TD and a 2-point conversion, his day could have been even better. He was hit hard and denied entry at the goal line on one play, and on another, he had a line on the ball in the end zone, he was unable to grab it. Overall, however, his game was impressive. Graham did well to catch the rockets Wilson fired at him all day, and took a few very big hits in stride.