Seahawks vs. Falcons: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Seattle
The comeback effort just was not enough in the end as the Seahawks ended up coming short in the end.
It was a valiant effort by Seattle who scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and took a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left. Russell Wilson set a rookie record during the game and just about everything he could to put the Hawks in a position to win.
Matt Ryan was huge on the final drive of the game and set up the Falcons with a chance to kick a field goal for the win. The Seahawks simply could not put pressure on Ryan and he was shredding the Seahawks' defense down the field.
It was an impressive performance for numerous players, read on for complete player grades.
Overall Game Grade: A
Wilson did more than enough to put his team in a position to win.
He finished 24-of-36 for a rookie playoff record 385 yards and two touchdowns. Couple that with his team-high 60 yards rushing and one rushing touchdown and Wilson had the Seahawks on the cusp of advancing.
He was huge down the stretch and looked cool and calm leading his troops in the fourth quarter. He kept plays alive with both his arms and his legs and was the catalyst for the Seahawks offense during the second half. It came down to the defense's ineptitude rather than Wilson's performance, because he was outstanding.
Marshawn Lynch: C-
Maybe his sprained foot was more injured than expected, because Lynch was absent for a big part of the game. After being the central part of the Seahawks' offense for much of the season, Lynch simply could not find running lanes against Atlanta.
He finished the game with 46 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown, but that was not what we had seen from him for most of the season. He looked timid on carries and rarely showed that transcendent skill to fight through multiple tacklers.
Instead he coughed up a fumble early on and averaged a mundane 2.9 yards per carry.
Robert Turbin: B-
Turbin did not get a wealth of opportunities but he made some big plays when it mattered. He came up with a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter, and had 18 yards rushing.
He ran the ball hard and was fighting for extra yards nearly every time he touched the ball.
Golden Tate: B+
It was a slow start for Tate, but he got it rolling when it mattered. He finished the game with 103 yards on six catches and a touchdown. He was having a tough time finding separation in the first half, but it was Tate who was pushing it down field in the second half.
He hauled in a 29-yard catch on a broken play where he made a deep comeback route, which was a crucial play in the game. Tate also punched in the first touchdown of the game for the Seahawks that ended up getting the comeback started.
Sydney Rice: C
For being a big receiver, he made the smaller Asante Samuel look good.
He simply could not get away from Samuel and finished the game with only four catches for 60 yards. Rice never really made an impact on the game, and could only come up with four of the nine passes that were thrown his way.
It would have been nice to see Rice have a monster day to help take some of the pressure of Wilson.
Doug Baldwin: F
He never really made an impact and finished with only one catch for six yards.
It was a common theme for Baldwin this year, as he never really flashed the brilliance of a season ago.
Zach Miller: A
He was the Seahawks' most reliable target from the beginning and he played a huge role on Sunday.
Miller finished with a game-high eight catches and 142 yards with one touchdown. He was finding space over the middle of the field and torching the Atlanta secondary constantly, but his effort alone just was not enough.
Miller had an excellent game, and Wilson found him wide open in the endzone to cut the Falcons' lead to six during the fourth quarter.
Russell Okung: B
The entire offensive line did an excellent job in pass protection, but their running protection was not enough to get Lynch going.
They only surrendered two sacks, and those may have been because of Wilson holding the ball too long. Overall, the line did a good job on Sunday of protecting Wilson and allowing him to push the ball down the field consistently.
Paul McQuistan: B
Much like Okung, the rest of the offensive line did a good job as well. There were few breakdowns along the line, which played a major part for their offensive success.
Max Unger: B
Unger did not disappoint outside of one chop blocking call. He did almost come up with a huge play late in the game, but Marshawn Lynch did not fumble into Unger's hands.
J.R. Sweezy: B
For being young, Sweezy held his own against a good Atlanta pass rush. They were constantly running stunts, but Sweezy stayed in control and did fine.
Breno Giacomini: B
Like the rest of the group, it was an adequate game overall. There were no major complaints, outside of the absence of the running game, but they guided the offense to 28 points in the second half.
Bruce Irvin: F
Wow, did it seem like they missed Chris Clemons. Irvin was absent on Sunday and it seemed like they never even called his number against Atlanta.
Obviously rush defense is not his strength, but he was getting swallowed up by the right tackle over and over again. Regardless of what move he would try, it just did not work. He was constantly left on the turf and that really affected the Hawks ability to pressure Matt Ryan.
Brandon Mebane: D
He started to turn it around in the second half, but the Falcons were running wild on the interior rush in the first half. Mebane was a big part of that, as he was having trouble getting off blocks.
Regardless, he rarely made plays in the backfield, and Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers found success moving the ball by getting outside the tackles. Mebane, and the rest of the team, finished with no sacks on Sunday.
Alan Branch: F
Like the rest of the defensive line, it was a forgettable performance by Branch as well.
He finished with one tackle, and the Falcons finished with 167 rushing yards. It was an embarrassing performance for the entire defensive line, and Branch's day was no different.
Red Bryant: F
Bryant also had one tackle on the day, and without Chris Clemons, Bryant was seeing multiple lineman at times. He was unable to be the run stopper that he usually is, and he, along with the rest of the defensive line did not even get a hit on Matt Ryan.
Bryant was asked to do more without Clemons available, but he did not respond with a transcendent performance.
MLB Bobby Wagner: B
He was out in pass coverage more than he should have been, and he could not stop Tony Gonzalez, but neither could the rest of the defense. It would have been nice to see a safety in coverage on Gonzalez, but they were apparently more worried about Atlanta's deep threats.
But he did come up with an interception in the first half, which was great to see.
Wagner did finish with a game-high seven solo tackles, but he could not stop the run in the backfield and was constantly chasing after running backs, rather than meeting them behind the line.
OLB K.J. Wright: C
Wright tied with Wagner with eight total tackles, which led the team. But, he made about as much of an impact as anyone else on defense.
He was caught chasing down the Atlanta running backs and could not stop the passing attack, both seemed like a common theme amongst the Hawks defenders on Sunday.
OLB Leroy Hill: D
Hill was constantly lost on Sunday. He is not known for his pass coverage skills, but he did not rack up the tackles either. They ran easily on the outside, and some of that has to be attributed to Hill. He finished with only four tackles.
Earl Thomas: B
Thomas had a good game on Sunday, but he was about the only member of the Legion of Boom to show up. He had a game-changing interception that really deflated the Falcons during the fourth quarter.
He came up with four tackles, but he missed a couple stops on Rodgers, that could have negated big gains.
Kam Chancellor: F
He got beat deep by Roddy White after Richard Sherman fell down, but more than that he just never made his presence felt. He did not have his number called very often, and it would have been nice to see him matched up with Tony Gonzalez.
He is a big safety that would have been able to muscle up with Gonzalez instead of putting smaller or slower defenders on him. But, that comes down to coaching more than anything.
Richard Sherman: D
He had some good pass defenses early on, but he also got beat deep by Roddy White for a 47-yard touchdown where he fell down. We've seen Sherman blossom into one of the best corners in football and his performance on Sunday was not what we've become accustomed to.
Maybe he's just been making too many plays recently, but it would have been nice to see Sherman match up one-on-one with confidence against Atlanta's weapons.
Brandon Browner: F
He played off the ball for much of the game and was getting torched on comeback routes. For being one of the biggest cornerbacks in football, he should be confident in jamming at the line and not letting receivers off the ball.
Overall Game Grade: C
The special teams never really made an impact until the end of the game. They needed to bring down Rodgers on a kick return after they took the lead, instead they let him gain 34 yards and set up the game-winning field goal.
The Seahawks forced two punts all game, and Leon Washington could not make his presence felt, simply because he did not get the opportunity to do so.
Pete Carroll also decided not to kick field goals early on, which contributed to the lack of special teams' play on Sunday.
Overall Game Grade: D
They turned the offense around in the second half, and the defense started to come up with stops down the stretch.
But, they made some big mistakes throughout the game, and that simply can't happen in the playoffs.
Why would you not kick a field goal when the team is down 13? Carroll should have taken the easy three and got his team on the board instead of gambling, and ultimately failing. I think his decision to ice the kicker was excusable, because Atlanta should not have been able to snap and take the first attempt at that kick.
Overall, the game plan seemed like it went into effect after halftime, and that says something about the coaching staff. But, there were mistakes that simply can not be made, especially in the playoffs.
The choice to not take a field goal and the clock management at the end of the first half were two major errors.