BY Art Thiel 04:23PM 01/08/2017

Thiel: Seahawks’ run game gives hope vs. Ryan

Thanks to a big day rushing, the Seahawks defense played only 23 minutes and 50 plays in win over Lions. Keeping QB Matt Ryan off the field may be the most important feat Saturday in Atlanta.

The Seahawks’ rematch against Atlanta will require more plays like Cliff Avril’s sack of QB Matt Ryan in the Oct. 16 game. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Revivifying the running game may have excited Seahawks fans Saturday, but it wasn’t especially impressive to Las Vegas bookmakers, who have made Atlanta a four-point favorite Saturday, when the 11-5 Falcons host the 11-5-1 Seahawks in the Georgia Dome in a divisional-round playoff game.

Hard to knock the historical logic: The Seahawks have won only three road games in their playoff history (1983, 2013 and last January at Ice Station Zebra in Minneapolis).

But the current situation, based primarily on the 26-6 win wild-card win over the Lions Saturday, suggests that a Seahawks upset is plausible. Because as formidable as the Falcons offense is, the defense is on a seasonal par with Detroit: Atlanta against the run was ranked 17th at 104.5 yards a game and Detroit 18th at 106.5.

The Seahawks ran for 177 yards against the Lions, including a club-playoff-record 161 from RB Thomas Rawls, deploying an old-fashioned I-formation with lead blocking from FB Marcel Reece that would have made Woody Hayes proud.

Besides the salutary effect on offensive efficiency, the run game allowed the defense a considerable break by having to play just 23 minutes against 55 plays. The Lions never came closer to the end zone than the 33-yard line and scored only two field goals, both beyond 50 yards.

“I had my feet propped up on the sideline,” said LB K.J. Wright, grinning. “It was fun watching them melt that clock.”

Said SS Kam Chancellor: “They even came to the sideline saying, ‘We’re going to keep you off the field.’ It gives us time to rest, and go over adjustments we see on the field.”

In the first meeting between the teams Oct. 16 at the Clink, won by Seattle 26-24, the defense held the Falcons to 362 yards, 53 below their average that was second in the NFL. More important, Atlanta had just four of 13 conversions on third and fourth downs.

But those numbers happened with the presence of FS Earl Thomas, who watched Saturday’s game on crutches from the sideline. His loss for the season to a broken leg is a big opportunity for QB Matt Ryan, who is in the talk for Most Valuable Player.

He led the NFL with a passer rating of 117.1 on 38 touchdown against seven interceptions. (Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was 14th at 92.6 with 21 TDs and 11 picks). That makes it imperative for Seattle to control the clock and limit Ryan’s possessions.

In the October game, possession time was nearly even. Ryan was good — 27 for 42 for 335 yards, including three touchdowns in 11 minutes of the third quarter, and one pick by Thomas — but the feared running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman was held to 52 yards in 18 carries.

The guy who went off was WR Julio Jones, who had 139 yards and one touchdown among seven receptions, mostly matched up against CB Richard Sherman. But on Atlanta’s second-to-last possession to move toward a potential game-winning field goal, a Jones reception was broken up by Sherman after what most observers considered pass interference that went uncalled.

The third quarter featured a sideline eruption by Sherman, because a miscommunication with SS Kelcie McCray allowed Jones free for a 36-yard touchdown. Sherman’s rant against defensive coordinator Kris Richard, which required teammates to attempt to get Sherman settled down, disrupted the defense for the rest of the quarter, which included  two more passing touchdowns that flipped a 17-3 Seattle lead at halftime.

“He got really upset that we didn’t play something correctly,” coach Pete Carroll said. “When we get that hot, we have to control it better so we don’t get in the way of what’s coming up.”

But even Carroll acknowledged the lingering impact.

“I think there was some impact,” he said. “We had to get through it, and we did.”

The Falcons lost the following week to San Diego, 33-30, in overtime, but since then won seven of their final nine to snatch the NFC’s No. 2 seed and its bye from the Seahawks.

For the Seahawks to pull off another successful running game, especially on the road, will be a feat. They averaged 88.1 yards rushing away from the Clink.

But that was then. This is the elite-eight playoffs Saturday.

The line “had a lot of garbage come their way,” Carroll said after the game. “A lot of talk about them. They’re really pumped up about what they did today.

“I’m really fired up for the guys up front.”

Garbage in, garbage out.

Falcons season:





  • Steed

    The Seahawks need to run the ball and score touchdowns. And put pressure on Ryan, and hope he doesn’t carpet bomb them with deep throws to Julio Jones. And it would help if they could grab a couple turnovers. They need to catch the ball when the other QB hits them in the chest with it (Shead).

    If they can beat Atlanta on the road, they can beat anybody and win it all. Either way, 5 straight years with a playoff win is pretty good. Only 2 other teams have a better streak.

    • cocktaildave

      Agreed. Any NFL season that culminates with a playoff victory must be considered a success. Now if only our kicker makes that chip shot in the first AZ game or possibly the extra point in the second one we would be playing this game in SEA. Snakes are in his head and he’s always hit a low trajectory ball. I’ve been saying all year, time to look for a new kicker. Probably save some cap space too.

      • Kirkland

        It’s not just Hauschka who’s had an off year; it seems like all kickers have been subpar. I think there’s been missed extra points virtually every week.

        As far as Hauschka’s low trajectories, I’ve heard that the CLink favors that. High kicks tend to get caught in the swirling winds caused by the open ends.

        • cocktaildave

          He is next to last in extra point percentage at 82.9, missed 2 FG between 20 and 29 yds, missed 2 between 40 and 49 yds, and was 1 for 1 at 50 plus which to me means the team doesn’t trust him at anything 50 plus. However, he was 13 for 13 in the 30 yrd range.
          I know he has been a good kicker over the years. But the time has come to at least bring in some serious competition this off-season, perhaps even draft a mid to late rounder. He is a UFA after this season unless he gets an extension.

  • John Brown

    Defense travels. Let’s hope the run game does, too! GO HAWKS!!! :)

  • 1coolguy

    Your comment on Thomas is spot on – The Falcons receivers will be living between the hash marks deep. Terrell had best have his “go fast” spikes on as he’ll need them.

    • Marycbutton

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj58d:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash58MediaShopGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!mj58d:….,….

    • art thiel

      Terrell is fast. It’s play recognition and angles where he lacks experience.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art! Here’s crossing fingers that the O-line can maintain their intensity – really nice game! Love Effeti’s comment about how good it felt. Key to moving forward in the playoffs will be their ability to keep riding that wave.

    Addressing the Defense, the last time we played the Falcons we didn’t have Cam. With all due respects to what we’re missing with Earl out – obviously huge – we have already seen what it’s like to have Chancellor out for periods in two straight seasons, and it’s also a huge difference when he comes back, maybe bigger. So, I really expect that addition will be significant in the ability to control and stop Ryan and crew better than they did in week 6. I don’t seen many rushing yards from them with Cam back in there, Bobby Wagner seemingly increasing his ability to track and destroy runners, and everyone else doing their jobs as they have been – great form tackling up front!


  • Husky73

    Howard Hughes was fascinated by Ice Station Zebra. He watched it over and over, hundreds of times.

    • art thiel

      David Janssen, as I recall without looking it up because it isn’t worth it.

      • Husky73

        C’mon Art….The Rock…not the phony Rock of today…the REAL Rock…Rock Hudson! And Jim Brown! And ERNEST BORGNINE who delivered every line at the top of his lungs.

    • Pixdawg13

      The novel (by Alistair MacLean) was considerably better.

      • Husky73

        Where Eagles Dare is the best film adaptation of his big 3. Ice Station Zebra was not a very good movie, but it fascinated Hughes because of the early computers and gadgetry. There is a fascinating article called (I think), “I Caught Flies for Howard Hughes.”

  • Kevin Lynch

    They are going to have to pressure Matty. This Falcon team has averaged 36 points a game since their bye, over the last 6 games of the season. Only 4 times this year did they not score 28 points and 3 of those were on the road. The one at home was the year’s first game and they got 24. I’d say the Falcons are a good bet to score 28 to 31 points this weekend. So Russell and the offense will need a strong third down conversion rate, might have to convert a fourth down or two, and not rely on field goals. Even if you make them field goals will kill you against a fast striking and high scoring team. Sit the field goal kicker unless it’s 4th and 10.

  • Diamond Mask

    I think this will be competitive battle and may be like the last playoff game against the Falcons except this time we’ll hope that we’re the team who has the ball last.

    Get ready for a lot of repetitive talk this week from outside Seattle about the supposed “non-call” on Sherman for pass interference in the first game. As if that single play made the difference in 4 quarters worth of plays on both side of the ball. It’s a yawn. But it fits the NFL narrative that Sherman/Seahawks are really just thugs. Tom Brady gets sat down for 4 games for CHEATING and the NFL and their minions can’t deliver enough accolades to the man. Never any mention of his nonsense. But one missed call for the Seahawks and a narrative is born. I guess Sherman doesn’t hold back on the NFL and they’re happy to return the favor.


  • It’s only Sports

    If they can play up to their capabilities and match ATL punch for punch like they did in the Battle of the Birds part #1 in Seattle it bodes well for club to return home to Seattle with a victory. I am glad we will have Kam back for this one. The young guys have gotten a taste of what it takes to win. Amazing that Rawls could set the one game rushing total in his 1st play off game of his career. Frank Clark was a beast and you can only expect the ABC sack machine (Avril Bennett Clark) to wrack it up chasing Ryan with elimination on the line. When the D knows there will be 7months off if they don’t bring it home that is premium motivation.
    Also Wilson seems to fare well in controlled condition games…not to mention he has the memory of an Elephant. Ask him and he will tell you he is still miffed ATL ended the clubs dream of being the NFC entrant in the 2012 season. He firmly believes ATL stole a SB opportunity from them and revenge is a sweet motivator.
    Add the fact there is no respect being doled out to this club as underdogs? Perfect.
    Its a perfect storm in atmosphere. I love your point that they didn’t have to endure playing in the frozen Tundra as was their 1st play off game fate last year. Its a boon to have no excuse conditions. Bring their A game and you cannot help but think the Hawks will seize upon the opportunity. Go Hawks!

    • Natalielstokes

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj145d:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash145DirectWorldGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!mj145d:….,….

    • art thiel

      Seahawks also didn’t have Rawls in the first meeting. But the absence of Earl Thomas is critical. Terrell is solid, but through no fault of his own can’t know what Thomas does. Atlanta’s late run was impressive, suggesting team improved over one that barely lost in SEA.

      I’m also fairly certain Sherman won’t rage during this game.

      • Husky73

        I shall wager you a Dick’s Deluxe that indeed Sherman, at some point, will rage.

      • It’s only Sports

        Prudent points…they will have to deal with Chancellor and T~Rawls… but they are an improved team against other clubs… I am looking forward to this rematch. One thing we know? Seattle also knows the ET factor looms large…for sure the coaches have pulled Sherm to the side and have told him Terrell is no ET ..he will do his best but we have to make do and watch our Achilles heal while the other guys get after it…
        ET noticed how intense Clark was getting after it. I think they will play him a little more than usual this game. This D will be a challenge for the Blackbirds.
        Go Hawks!