The Seahawks had been vulnerable against the run lately. The Falcons had showed signs of a spark the previous week at Carolina.
If the Falcons thought they saw an opening to run the ball, Seattle schemed to stop it Sunday and shut the Falcons down.
But less surprising than Atlanta’s sub-par running game was its inability to make the Seahawks pay for committing an extra defender to stopping the run.
“When they put one extra guy in box, they are daring you to throw the ball,” Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said. “We went to the pass but that wasn’t working, either. It was just one of those days. They played well. Give them credit.”
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Following the 33-10 loss at the Georgia Dome, giving the Seahawks credit was the recurring the theme for Atlanta’s offensive players after Seattle held them to a season-low 226 yards. That included 38 yards by the Falcons after coach Mike Smith sent the starters back out with 1:46 to play.
The Falcons couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t pass the ball, couldn’t convert third downs or do much of anything productive.
“We struggled,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know what you want me to say. We had plays called up, plays we thought were going to be successful. They didn’t work. What am I supposed to say?”
The poor offensive production represented only more of the same for the Falcons, especially in the running game.
The Falcons rushed for 64 yards on 16 carries against Seattle and that four-yard average is just slightly better than their 3.5 mark in the first eight games. It’s the best yards-per-rush number for the Falcons since they gained 4.9 yards per carry in Week 3 at Miami.
The return of Falcons running back Steven Jackson from injury has had little effect. He said he felt 100 percent for his third game back in the lineup but gained just 11 yards on nine carries.
“We knew they were going to be a big, physical defense that would challenge us not only in the run game but the pass as well,” Jackson said. “They did a really good job swarming to the football and making us be in tough situations. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other team.”
The Rams ran for 200 yards against Seattle on Oct. 28 and Tampa Bay ran for 205 yards the next week. This led the Falcons to believe this was the week to get their ground game going.
“That was a big part of our game plan,” Falcons center Peter Konz said. “We had some efficient runs and some runs that just got stopped. They ran some looks that we hadn’t prepared for and then some we did. That’s football. They are going to bring something new every week and we have to handle that.”