QB Jackson is why Seahawks are lowly regarded and Falcons should be highly concerned

By Jim Moore

SEATTLE – Matt Ryan thinks the Falcons can still achieve all of their goals this season, but it’s fair to wonder if they will after yesterday’s closer-than-it-should-have-been 30-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

At 1-3, the Seahawks are no one’s idea of a Super Bowl team. Yet if Steven Hauschka had made a 61-yard field goal at the end of the game, the Falcons would be 1-3 and the Seahawks 2-2.

Tarvaris Jackson is the main reason why the Seahawks are so lowly regarded and why the Falcons should be highly concerned.

Entering yesterday’s game, Jackson had thrown only two touchdown passes this season. Until he hooked up with Sidney Rice on a 52-yarder to cut Atlanta’s lead to 14-7 in the second quarter, Seattle had gone 145 minutes without a touchdown pass.

Until the Falcons rolled into Century Link Field, Jackson had never thrown for 300 yards, not in his short time in Seattle, not in his many years in Minnesota. His high-water career mark was 249 yards against the Bears in 2007 and 191 this year against the 49ers.

But yesterday against the feckless Falcons’ defense, Jackson completed 25 of 38 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns. One interception, by Curtis Lofton, might have been his fault, but the other wasn’t – James Sanders smacked Zach Miller at the goal line, knocking the ball out of the Seattle tight end’s hands and right into Thomas DeCoud’s.

Jackson must have looked like a Pro Bowler to Seahawks’ fans who have been doubting him and periodically booing him since he arrived as a free agent from the Vikings.

As soon as he got to town in August, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll named Jackson the starter, which must have been a confusing development to incumbent Charlie Whitehurst, who thought he would get the call after Matt Hasselbeck signed with Tennessee.

Last year when the Falcons played here in December, Hasselbeck struggled and chants of “CHAR-LEE, CHAR-LEE” were heard at Century Link. Until yesterday, droves of Seahawks’ fans still thought Whitehurst, the Chattahoochee High alum, deserved the starting job, mostly based on Jackson’s tepid efforts in the first three games.

So when a guy like this has an uncharacteristically terrific day against your defense, you have to hope that it’s some kind of aberration and not a bad omen for the Falcons.

Moving on to a much more difficult game against the Super Bowl champion Packers on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons merely tipped their caps to Jackson.

“Tarvaris really played well,” Ryan said. “He was really efficient in the no-huddle package. He battled.”

As did the Falcons, avoiding a disastrous loss to a team with a quarterback who had never played like this before.