Monday’s NFL: Falcons hold off Seahawks’ rally
Seattle — Matt Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, Adrian Clayborn returned a fumble 10 yards for a score and the Atlanta Falcons held off a late rally to beat the Seattle Seahawks 34-31 on Monday night.
Atlanta stayed in the hunt for an NFC playoff spot thanks to its second straight victory and handed Seattle a second consecutive home loss. Ryan threw TDs to Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo, while Tevin Coleman added a 1-yard TD run on Atlanta’s opening possession. But it was Clayborn’s fumble return that helped break the game open early in the second quarter and gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead. He scooped up a loose ball after Russell Wilson was crunched by Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction. We keep proving we can finish games and beat guys. We have to take the momentum and keep rolling with it,” Clayborn said.
Seattle attempted a late rally down by 11 points. Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard TD with 3 minutes left, and Seattle got in range for a long field goal attempt by Blair Walsh in the closing moments, but his 52-yard attempt with 2 seconds left came up short and Atlanta escaped with the victory.
Wilson again was the entirety of Seattle’s offense, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 86 yards and a TD.
But it was an awful night for the Seahawks, filled with more injuries and questionable decisions by coach Pete Carroll. He called for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempting a 35-yard kick. He also made a questionable challenge in the fourth quarter that didn’t go his way and left Seattle with just one timeout.
“As it does it comes down to some critical situations and we’ve got to come through and make some plays and make the conversion that we needed and didn’t quite get it done,” Carroll said.
That lack of timeouts came back to haunt Seattle on the final drive when seconds ticked away and rather than running one more play, Walsh was sent out to attempt the 52-yard kick. His long for the season is 49 yards.
The conclusion only amplified Carroll’s baffling decision at the end of the first half, when Seattle ran a fake field goal rather than having Walsh attempt a 35-yarder that would have pulled Seattle within 24-20. Holder Jon Ryan completed his shovel pass to Luke Willson, but Grady Jarrett read the play and tackled Willson for a 4-yard loss.
“It would have been a really good call if we had made it,” Carroll said. “Terrific opportunity right where we wanted it and the defensive tackle made a better play.”
Seattle played a game for the first time since the end of the 2010 season without Richard Sherman. His streak of 99 consecutive starts in the regular season was snapped because of a torn Achilles tendon suffered against Arizona. The Seahawks were also without safety Kam Chancellor because of a neck injury, leaving their vaunted secondary with several new faces.
Ryan was more than happy to pick on a defense without those anchors. He was 19 of 27 passing for 195 yards and rarely faced pressure. Seattle had one sack, and the Falcons went 9 of 14 on third-down conversions.
Sanu made a great one-handed grab for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Ryan found Toilolo on a 25-yard TD in the third quarter to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead. Matt Bryant added a 19-yard field goal with 3:49 left to put the Falcons ahead by 11, and Wilson’s late heroics weren’t enough.
Seattle’s injury woes continued. The Seahawks lost rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a concussion on the second play of the game, forcing newly signed veteran Byron Maxwell into a more prominent role than expected.
Early in the second half, promising running back Mike Davis was lost to a groin injury after taking a screen pass 21 yards. Davis had two receptions and had carried six times for 18 yards before getting hurt. Seattle also lost starting guard Oday Aboushi in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
Atlanta got a scare when safety Keanu Neal was checked for a concussion in the first half. He was cleared to return.
GLENN DIES IN CRASH
Former NFL receiver Terry Glenn, who caught Tom Brady’s first touchdown pass with the Patriots in 2001, died Monday following a one-vehicle rollover traffic accident near Dallas that left his fiancée slightly hurt, officials said. He was 43.
Glenn died shortly before 1 a.m. at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, according to the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office. Irving police are investigating the cause of the wreck at 12:18 a.m. on eastbound Highway 114, said Chelsey Jones, a police department spokeswoman.
Glenn, a former Ohio State star who lived in the Dallas area, was driving when the vehicle left the highway, struck a concrete barrier and rolled, authorities said. Glenn was ejected.
Jones said his fiancée was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Her name and further details weren’t released. Jones had no immediate information on whether the couple wore seatbelts.
Glenn won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top college receiver in 1995, piling up 1,411 yards and 17 touchdowns in his only year as a starter for Ohio State to set the stage for a pro career. Glenn played 12 seasons in the NFL, from 1996 to 2007, including six with the Patriots, five with the Dallas Cowboys and another year in Green Bay. He finished his career with 8,823 yards receiving and 44 touchdowns.
The Patriots drafted Glenn seventh overall in 1996 when Bill Parcells was coach, and Glenn set an NFL rookie record with 90 catches for a team that reached the Super Bowl, losing to the Packers.
Brady’s first touchdown pass was a 21-yarder to Glenn in a 29-26 overtime win over San Diego the year that Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe and led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl title. The 40-year-old Brady is in his 18th season and has won five championships.
Glenn was suspended from the 2001 team for the playoffs for multiple unexcused absences from practices and meetings. The club also withheld a bonus payment because of off-field issues that included an arrest over an incident with the mother of his 5-year-old son. The woman recanted the charges.
The Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and are replacing him with quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.
Klint Kubiak will take over as QBs coach while Musgrave calls plays for the final six weeks.
... Jay Cutler’s availability for the Dolphins on Sunday at New England is uncertain because he’s in the concussion protocol, but he’s expected to start if healthy.
... Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah needs surgery on his broken right foot and will require up to four months of recovery.
... Texans coach Bill O’Brien says he doesn’t expect D’Onta Foreman to play again this season. Foreman sustained what the team called a left ankle injury on Sunday.
... Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett remains in the concussion protocol, but coach Chuck Pagano expects him to play Sunday against Tennessee.
... Washington receiver Terrelle Pryor is heading to injured reserve after having ankle surgery.