Last season, the Falcons ended the year as the hottest team in the National Football League.

After starting 1-7 and finishing 6-2, with big road wins over the Saints and the Super Bowl-bound 49ers, the franchise was hoping to carry that momentum into the 2020 season.

That didn’t work out so well.

The Falcons, playing before no fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, were not ready for the start of the season. The Seahawks threw a bomb on fourth-and-5 and turned a fumble off a fake punt attempt into a touchdown on their way to a 38-25 victory Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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“We didn’t capitalize in certain situations and things like that,” Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said. “I felt like that determined the outcome of the game.”

The Falcons, who have been notorious slow starters, dropped their third-straight season opener. They were 0-for-3 on fourth downs, including the key fumble.

'We certainly wanted to be bold," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Knowing, with the group that we have, we are going to continue to do that. Some were execution ones, some, you’d like to have a different call. Against a good quarterback you want to be bold and you want to stay aggressive.”

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson carved up the Falcons' defense as he completed 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns. He finished with a passer rating of 143.1. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was 37 of 54 for 450 yards yard, two touchdowns and an interception. He finished with a passer rating of 98.5.

“It was just not enough," Ryan said. "We have to do better, really I think on those critical downs, fourth downs too, to keep drives going and come away with points.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan discusses the loss to the Seahawks in the 2020 home opener.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Here are five things we learned from the game:

1. Quirky calls backfire. The Falcons went for it on a fourth-and-2 and the pass was batted down in the first quarter.

Seattle answered with a three-play, 60-yard touchdown drive to take a 14-3 lead.

The Seahawks blew the game open after another questionable call by the Falcons.

The Falcons went for a fake punt and picked up the first down. However, backup safety Sharrod Neasman fumbled the ball after getting smacked by Seattle’s Marquise Blair. The ball was recovered by Seattle’s Freddie Swain at Atlanta’s 36-yard line.

Five plays later, Wilson tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen to put Seattle up 28-12.

Seattle’s Jason Meyer added a 36-yard field goal to push the lead to 31-12.

The Falcons added an 18-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Calvin Ridley, but couldn’t mount a sustained rally.

2. Oliver beaten on fourth-and-5. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver, who was playing a strong game, was beaten by wide receiver D.K. Metcalf at the line of scrimmage on fourth down-and-5 from the Falcons' 38.

Wilson connected with Metcalf for a touchdown pass when the Falcons needed a stop.

“No, he was not expecting coverage over the top," Quinn said. "It was man to man or a single high defense.”

The score gave the Seahawks a 21-12 lead.

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Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf catches a touchdown pass past Atlanta Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver for a 21- 12 lead during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Atlanta.  (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf catches a touchdown pass past Atlanta Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver for a 21- 12 lead during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Wilson had been working underneath for most of the game. He’d only thrown one deep pass in the first half, which ended with a 41-yard pass interference call on Ricardo Allen.

Oliver, who was working on his jams at the line of scrimmage over the offseason, appear to slip when he tried to hit Metcalf, who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds.

The big play seem to take the wind out of the Falcons' sails.

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3. Running back rotation. The Falcons elected to roll with three for their four running backs as Qadree Ollison was declared inactive.

Todd Gurley, who was signed in free agency after being released by the Rams, lead the way. He rushed 10 times for 51 yards in the first half and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.

Brian Hill went in next. He had three carries for 12 yards, but was stuffed on a third-and-one run up the middle. Ito Smith came on in the second quarter.

The Falcons averaged 85.1 yards rushing last season, which ranked 30th in the league.

Gurley and Hill had combined for 65 yards by halftime, but after the team got behind, they had to abandon the run.

The Falcons finished with 72 yards rushing on 21 carries, Gurley had 56 yards on 14 carries.

“Those guys up front did a great job," Gurley said of the offensive line. "They held their own. We just took what the defense gave us. We got a couple of great runs at the beginning of the game. That’s something for us to (build) on.”

091320 Atlanta: Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on his first offensive play during the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 in Atlanta.  (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
091320 Atlanta: Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on his first offensive play during the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

4. Defense mounted a pass rush: On the first defensive play of the game, defensive end Takk McKinley had a sack of Wilson.

Grady Jarrett had one sack and shared in another with Dante Fowler.

The Falcons had three sacks after getting just 28 last season.

McKinley was particularly active. He chased down Wilson on a couple plays and was active on the perimeter of the defense.

5. Injury report: Cornerback Darqueze Dennard was injured with 11:37 left in the third quarter.

Wide receiver Russell Gage was injured on the last drive of the second quarter that ended in a 49-yard field goal.

He was evaluated for a head injury and cleared to return.

Quinn said that Dennard returned to the game.