Captain Comeback: Last-Minute Shockers By Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens
There's a lot more after the link but I'm just gonna quote the part about the Falcons.
Quote:All Matt Ryan wanted was a chance to win a playoff game in the fourth quarter. He never was close enough the first three times for an opportunity, and we always cover it in Captain Comeback how good this Atlanta team is at closing games late.
This time the Falcons blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, and Ryan’s first comeback opportunity in the playoffs was having 0:25 left at his own 28, needing a field goal with two timeouts in his pocket.
But as he has done before, Ryan led the fifth one-minute drill of his career; the most ever by a quarterback. It was the third time this season Ryan did so, tying him with Mark Sanchez (seriously) for the most in a season since 1981.
It is hard to believe this game produced one of the greatest finishes in NFL history, as it was all Atlanta for three quarters.
Tired of hearing about their 0-3 playoff record, the Falcons came out strong. It apparently helps to have the early start time against a West Coast team, as Atlanta jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Both teams exchanged turnovers, with Ryan throwing an interception and Marshawn Lynch fumbling for the second straight week.
Ryan used great catches from his tight ends to get the first touchdown on the board, going to Tony Gonzalez (0-5 in the playoffs coming into the game) for the 1-yard scoring toss. Ryan would throw three touchdowns on the day, matching his career playoff total from the first three games.
Finally getting plenty of help from the receivers and running game, Ryan led Atlanta to a 13-0 lead, much like the 14-0 lead Washington had last week against Seattle. But there would be no limping, injured quarterback this time around, and Russell Wilson was going to have to produce in a big way.
After driving to the ATL 11, the Seahawks ignored Lynch on two straight plays, getting stuffed on runs on both third and fourth down when they only needed a yard. It looked like a Pete Carroll game from his USC days.
Ryan took over and threw a perfect 47-yard touchdown to Roddy White, and the Falcons led 20-0. Seattle had a long drive to end the half, but after Wilson was sacked on 3rd and 11, the Seahawks could not get the field goal unit out there or run another play. They came away with no points, which was just an awful end to the half for them.
Teams trailing by 20+ points at halftime in the playoffs are 1-56 (.018). It is pretty obvious what the one win was. Big playoff comebacks almost always come from the home team, as only the 1957 Lions (20 points at San Francisco) and 1972 Cowboys (18 points at San Francisco) have come back from 18+ points down on the road.
But Wilson came out firing in the third quarter, and his receivers, namely Zach Miller and Golden Tate, were getting open. Tate caught a 29-yard touchdown. But the Falcons answered like a legit No. 1 seed, getting two third-down conversions with tough catches from Gonzalez. On a 14-play, 80-yard drive, Ryan finished it off with a well-designed shovel pass to Jason Snelling for the 5-yard touchdown. The lead was back up to 20.
Though the Falcons really should have went for the two-point conversion to make it 21, especially since the Seahawks were offsides and it would have been at the 1-yard line. This tactical error nearly ended Atlanta’s season.
As the fourth quarter began, Seattle was at the ATL 13. Four plays later Wilson scrambled for the 1-yard touchdown with 13:01 to play. Ryan threw a bad interception on a deep ball to Earl Thomas, and suddenly this was a game again.
Miller was left wide open in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown. Not sure how that happens when Miller had eight catches for 142 yards on the day after being so key last week as well.
The Falcons have only allowed three fourth-quarter comeback wins under Mike Smith since 2008, which is the best in the league. Could they really blow this 20-point lead?
This seemed all too familiar for Atlanta, and Seattle for that matter. After a quick three and out from Atlanta, Seattle had their first chance to take the lead. The drive stalled at midfield, and a chop block on third down would have negated a dropped pass by Sidney Rice. Seattle punted.
With 5:32 left, the Falcons are a threat to run out the clock in the four-minute offense, but they only gained one first down as Ryan could not connect with White on 3rd and 8.
Wilson had 3:00 left at his own 39, so there was plenty of time. After not having a 300-yard passing game all year, Wilson passed for 385 yards on just 36 attempts. It broke Sammy Baugh’s rookie playoff record when he passed for 335 yards in 1937.
After a 19-yard pass to Tate at the two-minute warning, Wilson ran for five yards. Hard to sack, Wilson got away and threw a short pass to Lynch, who gained 24 yards down to the ATL 3. The Falcons then had 12 defenders on the field, putting the ball at the ATL 2 with 0:34 to play.
Almost needing to let the Seahawks score, Lynch broke the plane on first down for the touchdown. He appeared to fumble in the worst fashion since Earnest Byner, but his lineman recovered the ball. It was a moot part of the play as replay confirmed the Lynch touchdown. Seattle led 28-27 as they were looking at the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in playoff history.
Problem is they still left too much time for Ryan. That would be 31 seconds and two timeouts, which is what Denver had left the day before when they took a knee. But the Broncos were tied, and the Falcons were down by a point with the season on life support.
Jacquizz Rodgers returned the kickoff to the ATL 28. Ryan had 0:25 left, but he has done this before. The first play is often the big one in determining if we are going to have something here, and Ryan started with a great pass to an open Harry Douglas for 22 yards at the 50. Atlanta used their second timeout with 0:19 left.
Seattle rushed five and nearly won the game with a sack of Ryan, but Rodgers just got over to his man in time for the block, and Ryan got rid of the pass, which went to an open Gonzalez at the SEA 36. He picked up five more yards before going down at the SEA 31.
Atlanta called their final timeout and brought out the kicking unit. Matt Bryant was wide right, but it was a warm-up kick as Carroll called timeout. Bryant adjusted and drilled the 49-yard kick with 0:08 to play, roughly 35 minutes after I tweeted the Falcons would win 30-28 in this exact fashion.
It was just another perfectly executed drive in the clutch from Ryan and the Falcons. Not as well executed was the ensuing kickoff, as the Falcons squibbed it or basically did an onside kick, giving Seattle the ball at their 46 with 0:06 left.
For some reason the Seahawks threw short for a 6-yard gain and got out of bounds. With 0:02 left at the ATL 48, fitting the Seattle season would come down to a Hail Mary. But this time there was no Golden Tate in the vicinity, though a wide receiver did make the game-ending catch.
It was Julio Jones for the Falcons on the interception, and they finally had their first playoff win in this era. It was hard-earned to say the least.
Wilson led a furious comeback and should have a bright future with this team. Though having the No. 1 scoring defense, the Seahawks let down too often in crunch time this year, especially on the road. It cost them dearly this time, as Ryan led his offense to 30 points again, just like last year in Seattle. The Falcons are the only team to score 30 on this defense the last two seasons, and their talented receivers have a lot to do with it.
Ryan improves his fourth-quarter comeback record to 16-13 (.552), the best winning percentage ever, and is 1-0 in the playoffs in that regard. Maybe this performance will silence some of the critics.
This was the season of one-minute drills, but it was only the third in the playoffs since 1981, and easily the shortest in terms of time to execute. If we had more data on older games, it is possible this could be the latest an offense has ever started with the ball trailing in a playoff game and won.
It is just the third playoff game ever to have two lead changes in the last minute, following the Music City Miracle (1999 Titans/Bills) and the listed Jets/Colts Wild Card game from two years ago.
In five seasons Ryan has 16 comebacks and 23 game-winning drives; both are records for a player’s first five seasons. Ryan has seven game-winning drives in 2012, marking the 12th time a player has done that.
Now a home win away from the Super Bowl, Ryan is on the cusp of finally being recognized for his achievements. He is no longer the quarterback without a playoff win.
Our QB is the comeback master. I don't care if it's just one playoff win. Football is football, there is no different set of rules, it's still 11 on 11. And for my money with only 2 minutes left to tie or win a game I'll take Ryan over basically anyone. Numbers don't lie y'all, 16 comebacks, and 23 game winning drives. 5 "one minute" drills most all time. I mean, the guy is OVER .500 ON GAME WINNING DRIVES!!! This guy is LE-GIT!