1. The Falcons led 27-7 going into the fourth quarter of their playoff game against the Seahawks. And yet, Seattle mounted a furious comeback that culminated in this play.
With 30 seconds left, Russell Wilson — who set the record for most passing yards in a playoff game by a rookie, with 385, plus two touchdowns — had the Seahawks on the Falcons’ goal line. A touchdown would give them the lead. And unsurprisingly, the ball went to powerful running back Marshawn Lynch. But Lynch is hit at the line, and the ball pops out, landing right in the arms of a Seattle lineman, who ran it in easily.
At first, it would seem like this fumble wouldn’t matter — the lineman got in, after all. But a player can’t advance the ball if his teammate fumbles, so the question at hand is whether Lynch broke the plane and scored.
2. Upon further review, it was obvious that he did. Touchdown, Seattle, and all of a sudden, it looks like we just witnessed the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history.
Only one team has ever won when down by 20 at halftime since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. No team has won when down by 20 after three quarters.
3. Not so fast. Atlanta gets the ball back with 31 seconds left and furiously marches down the field. A Tony Gonzalez catch gets them to the 32-yard-line, and Matt Bryant punches in the go-ahead field goal.
4. Here he is being ecstatically embraced by his quarterback, Matt Ryan.
5. The best part about the field goal? It came after a first attempt that was canceled by a Pete Carroll timeout. Except, Carroll seems to argue that he DIDN’T call the timeout, even though there was clear evidence that he did.
It’s possible that Carroll was arguing Bryant shouldn’t have gotten the practice attempt, but that would be stupid — kickers do that all the time.
6. So, it’s over, right? NO.
The Falcons botch an attempted squib kick, and the Seahawks recover with great field position. They only have six seconds and run a quick pass, giving them a shot at one last Hail Mary.
7. How’d that Hail Mary go? Not so well.
The pass is picked off by Julio Jones, a Falcons wide receiver put in to play coverage because of the circumstances. And thus ends one of the most exciting playoff games in recent memory, on a weekend full of excitement.
According to Advanced NFL Stats, the incredibly improbable game saw the Falcons go from having a 97% win-probability at the beginning of the fourth quarter to an 8% WP with two minutes left, then back to a 96% WP before Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary.
8. Shimmy on, Falcons. Shimmy on.
Atlanta will host the San Francisco 49ers, who destroyed Green Bay Saturday night, in the NFC Championship next weekend.