Share This Page
NFL

Falcons overcome late collapse, finally win playoff game

| Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, 8:18 p.m.

ATLANTA — Matt Bryant pumped his fist and celebrated atop the Falcons logo in the middle of the field. Tony Gonzalez broke down in tears. Matt Ryan relished the thought of not having to answer a familiar question.

The Falcons finally showed they could win a playoff game.

After a historic meltdown in the fourth quarter, the Falcons pulled off a comeback. Ryan completed two long passes, and Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining, lifting the NFC's top seed to a stunning 30-28 victory over Russell Wilson and the gutty Seahawks in a divisional game Sunday.

Atlanta (14-3) squandered a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, falling behind for the first time all day when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left and Ryan Longwell knocked through the extra point for a 28-27 lead.

Ryan, shaking off his struggles in three previous playoff losses and two interceptions against the Seahawks, hooked up with Harry Douglas on a 29-yard pass in front of the Falcons bench, and coach Mike Smith quickly signaled a timeout. Then, Ryan went down the middle to his favorite target Gonzalez.

Gonzalez hauled in the 19-yard throw, and Smith called his final timeout with 13 seconds remaining. Instead of risking another play and having the clock run out, he sent Bryant in for the field goal try.

The Seahawks called time just before the ball was snapped, and Bryant's kick sailed right of the upright. That turned out to be nothing more than practice. The next one was right down the middle.

“Our quarterback is a special player,” Smith said. “They call him Matty Ice, but I feel like we've got two Matty Ices. There's Matty Ice Ryan and Matty Ice Bryant.”

“Nobody flinched,” Ryan said. “We just kept battling, kept doing what we do. That's been the makeup of our team all season.”

Wilson threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. But the Seattle defense, which is one of the NFL's best and had totally stymied the Falcons in the fourth quarter, went to a softer coverage and got burned.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.