SEATTLE — The bizarre seems to happen to the Falcons.
In search of their first victory of the season, the Falcons needed a sack from Grady Jarrett and an interception from Richie Grant to help secure a 27-23 win over the Seahawks on Sunday at Lumen Field.
A potential game-winning drive was stopped by NFL security with 6:42 to play because a drone had entered the no-fly zone over the stadium.
“All they told was that it was a drone,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “I may have read to many CIA fiction thrillers. Maybe too many Brad Thor books. So, I’m looking up, and they tell me to get on the sideline. It’s a drone. Some interesting thoughts go through your head when they tell you to go to the bench. Luckily, nothing happened.”
After the seven-minute delay, the Falcons fumbled the ball three plays later, and it was recovered by Seattle’s Uchenna Nwosu at the Seahawks’ 37-yard line with 5:14 to play. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had a bad exchange with running back Tyler Allgeier.
The Seahawks drove to the Falcons’ 24-yard line. On third-and-8, Jarrett broke through and sacked Geno Smith.
On fourth down, Grant hauled in the interception, his first in the NFL. Jaylinn Hawkins strongly advised him to get down to help secure the victory.
“First off, we got some great pressure on those downs before the interception,” Grant said. “Lorenzo (Carter), I think he had his first sack today. They just kept applying pressure that drive. We were sitting back. We needed a play for the team. I was able to come down with it.”
The Falcons improved to 1-2, while the Seahawks dropped to 1-2.
“It felt like a heavyweight fight,” Arthur Smith said. “That’s a good football team. I’ve got the utmost respect for Pete Carroll and his staff. We knew it was going to be a tough environment.”
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter
Jarrett’s sack in crunch time was much needed for the defense, which gave up 420 total yards.
“We just had to respond,” Jarrett said. “We talked to each other last night as a team and how we had to play complementary football.”
The Falcons were powered by running back Cordarrelle Patterson, who rushed 17 times for a career-high 141 yards.
“We stayed with it,” Arthur Smith said. “It was cool to watch those guys finish the game. We needed a first. Hats off to the offense and CP for finishing it out.”
Patterson’s previous career high was the 120 yards he rushed for in the season opener against the Saints.
“At first, they did a heck of a job,” Patterson said. “I felt like they knew what we were going to do. The offensive line stepped up big. They stepped up big each and every week. I couldn’t do it without that offensive line. I’ve got high praise for those guys.”
Both offenses showed up and played strong in the first half as the Seahawks took a 20-17 lead.
The Seahawks, behind Smith’s passing, outgained the Falcons 282 yards to 221 and made a 31-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the second quarter for the lead.
Seattle opened the scoring with a 32-yard field goal. The Falcons, featuring Kyle Pitts, answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Mariota.
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter
Pitts was open behind the defense on the Falcons’ first play from scrimmage, but Mariota overthrew him. He was targeted four times in the opening drive and caught two passes for 14 and 22 yards.
Pitts also drew a pass-interference call. Pitts entered the game with four catches for 38 yards as he was heavily covered in losses to the Saints and Rams.
The Falcons said they wouldn’t force him the ball, but he had eight targets in the first half. He was not targeted in the third quarter.
The Seahawks put together a six-play, 74-yard touchdown drive to make it 10-7. On third-and-1 from Seattle’s 49, the Falcons bit on the play-action fake and tight end Colby Parkinson got behind the defense for a 36-yard gain. Two plays later, Smith tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Will Dissly.
On the Falcons’ next possession, they stalled after driving to the 7-yard line. Center Drew Dalman was called for holding, they gave up a sack and then had two other penalties declined as they were pushed back to the 23-yard line. Kicker Younghoe Koo made a 41-yard field goal to tie it at 10.
The Falcons’ defense got a three-and-out, and the offense added a 17-yard touchdown run by Patterson to take a 17-10 lead with 8:12 left in the second quarter.
With the defense putting up little resistance, Seattle put together a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 17. Smith capped the drive with an 18-yard pass to DK Metcalf.
The Seahawks forced their first three-and-out and received the ball back with 3:03 left in the first half.
The teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter to make it 23-20 Seattle.
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter
The Falcons responded quickly with a five-play, 75-yard drive which was capped with a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Drake London to put the Falcons up, 27-23.
The defense, which had little pressure on Smith, got to him in the ensuing drive. Defensive end Ta’Quon Graham had a big hit on the quarterback, and Rashaan Evans nearly came away with an interception.
The Falcons forced a punt and had the ball at the 10-yard line with 10:48 to play.
The Falcons will host the Cleveland Browns (2-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“We’ll continue to evolve,” Smith said. “How do we get better? We have a big game next week at home. Cleveland (which played Thursday night) has a couple of days’ jump on us.”
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.