Playoff matchup: Falcons pass defense vs. Seahawks pass offense

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lane Moore (16) makes a catch in between Atlanta Falcons defenders Sean Weatherspoon, left, and William Moore in the first half of their game at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

November 29, 2012 – Atlanta, Ga: New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lane Moore (16) makes a catch in between Atlanta Falcons defenders Sean Weatherspoon, left, and William Moore in the first half of their game at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Here is a look at how the Falcons’ pass defense matches up against the Seahawks pass offense.

Falcons starters: Left cornerback Asante Samuel, right cornerback Dunta Robinson, nickel back Robert McClain, free safety Thomas DeCoud and strong safety William Moore.

Falcons key reserves: Cornerbacks — Dominique Franks and Christopher Owens. Safeties — Chris Hope and Charles Mitchell

Seahawks: Quarterback Russell Wilson. Wide receivers Golden Tate and Sidney Rice. Tight end Zach Miller.

Seahawks key reserves: Wide receivers —Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Deon Butler (Inactive in wildcard round). Tight end – Anthony McCoy and Sean McGrath.

Matchup to …

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Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has dazzled despite questions about his small stature. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has dazzled despite questions about his small stature. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Russell Wilson was the sixth quarterback selected in the 2012 draft, but he’s the only one to lead his team to the divisional playoff round.

The Seahawks took Wilson with the 75th pick out of Wisconsin and eventually made him the starter, despite signing free-agent Matt Flynn to a rich contract in the offseason. It has paid off as Wilson has become a dynamic offensive threat for the Seahawks, who play the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Here are some excerpts from Wilson’s conference call with Atlanta reporters Wednesday:

Q: (Falcons defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan compared you to (Hall of Fame quarterback) Fran Tarkenton. That’s got to be something, right?

A: I know who he is. He’s a tremendous quarterback who played way back when and did a lot of great things and changed the game. I …

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Atlanta Falcons playoffs rewind: Michael Haynes

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
Who: Falcons wide receiver Michael Haynes

What: NFC wild-card playoff game, Falcons vs. Saints

When: Dec. 28, 1991

Where: Superdome

Score: Falcons 27, Saints 20

What happened: A New Orleans native goes home and prolongs the home team’s playoff misery.

After Haynes scored on a 61-yard catch from Chris Miller to lift the Falcons to victory, Falcons coach Jerry Glanville called it “the fastest touchdown I’ve ever seen.”

Haynes said there was a reason for that.

“I had scored a touchdown in the game before that, and on that play I cracked two ribs,” he said. “So during the (second) touchdown catch I had two cracked ribs and I was thinking, ‘I can’t get tackled because it’s going to hurt.’ I ran as fast as I ever had.”

With the score tied and less than three minutes left, Haynes caught a short pass and made a move to get around Saints cornerback (and friend) Milton Mack. Haynes, who had been a sprinter at the Olympic trials, broke free …

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Playoff buzz: Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson believes Falcons are ready

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Falcons vs. Seahawks

Because of their recent playoff flops, the Falcons didn’t always receive a lot of accolades from national media this season, even as they posted the NFL’s best record. But Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson, the former Cowboys coach, is among those who believe the Falcons are finally ready to win a playoff game after going 0-3 in the past four seasons.

“I think a lot of it is that, not just the fans, but the coaches and players said ‘Let’s do what we have to do to get ready for the playoffs,’” Johnson said on a Wednesday conference call. “I think during the season there was a lull there. They had a pretty good run, they had a good record and they knew they’d be in the playoffs, so they were like, ‘Let’s hurry up and get to the playoffs.

“Now I think, especially with the bye — even though they’ve got a bear of a team with Seattle, as hot of a team as there is in the league — I think Atlanta will be ready for …

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Atlanta Falcons playoff rewind: Morten Andersen relives ‘The kick’

Kicker Morten Andersen makes the game-winning kick in the 1999 NFC Championship Game, sending the Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII (Getty Images)

Kicker Morten Andersen makes the game-winning kick in the 1999 NFC Championship Game, sending the Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII (Getty Images)

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Who: Falcons kicker Morten Andersen

What: NFC Championship game, Falcons vs. Vikings

When: Jan. 17, 1999

Where: Metrodome

Score: Falcons 30, Vikings 27 (OT)

What happened: After Gary Anderson finally missed a kick for Minnesota, Morten Andersen delivered a perfect kick for the Falcons.

Some Falcons players were on their knees, hands clasped in prayer. Others looked to the sky or held hands in a chain.

Morten Andersen, the guy who actually had to attempt the kick that could send the Falcons to their first Super Bowl, was not among them.

“I’m looking at them like, ‘I don’t think these guys think I’m going to make it,” Andersen said with a laugh. “To me, it was a foregone conclusion. I had no anxiety at all. It was weird.”

That’s because field-goal attempts don’t come with much more pressure than …

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Video: Falcons hope to end playoff drought that dates back to 2004 season

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons will attempt to avoid a fifth straight NFL playoff defeat in Sunday’s home matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports.

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Continue reading Video: Falcons hope to end playoff drought that dates back to 2004 season »

Seattle Seahawks injury report: Marshawn Lynch did not practice today

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch did not practice because of a foot injury on Wednesday.

Here’s the Seattle Times report. Lynch usually sets out practice on Wednesday.

Cornerback Byron Maxwell (hamstring) and safety Jeron Johnson (hamstring) also did not practice.

Lynch was listed on the injury report last weak with a back injury on Wednesday. He fully participated in practice on Thursday and Friday, so the foot injury is new and may have been incurred in the Washington game.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll has stated his displeasure over the playing conditions in Washington. The Seahawks lost defensive end Chris Clemons to a knee injury in that game.

Atlanta Falcons injury report: Moore and Abraham limited
FLOWERY BRANCH–Falcons cornerback Chris Owens (hamstring) and safety Charles Mitchell (calf) missed practice today and safety William Moore (hamstring) and defensive end John Abraham (ankle) participated on a limited basis.

Moore, a starter, missed the final four …

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Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan is under intense pressure to win a playoff game

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is fanatical about his weekly routine.

Despite three losses in the playoffs, he plans to stick to his routine while preparing for the Seattle Seahawks, including the meals his wife, Sarah, prepares for him.

However, Ryan, who’s guarded about the most mundane details of his personal life, wouldn’t reveal what’s on the menu at the Ryan house for dinner this week.

“Not Pizza,” he said.

Spinach? Lasagna? McDouble off the Dollar Menu?

While his routine will remain the same, he hopes for a different outcome. Ryan’s playoff failures have been heavily scrutinized and well-documented.

They’ve lost while favored on the road to Arizona after the 2008 season. They’ve lost at home as the No. 1 seed to Green Bay after the 2010 season. And, they lost on the road as a slight underdog to the New York Giants after the 2011 season.

Ryan has not passed for 200 yards in any of the playoff losses. The offense collapsed in the second …

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Atlanta Falcons injury report: Moore and Abraham limited

FLOWERY BRANCH–Falcons cornerback Chris Owens (hamstring) and safety Charles Mitchell (calf) missed practice today and safety William Moore (hamstring) and defensive end John Abraham (ankle) participated on a limited basis.

Moore, a starter, missed the final four regular-season games. Abraham, who leads the team in sacks with 10, was injured during the regular-season finale.

Mitchell suffered the injury during the bye week but coach Mike Smith said he expects him to return to practice tomorrow. Mitchell was active for 10 regular-season games.

Owens sat out the regular-season finale against Tampa Bay. Owens is a key special-teams player.

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View from Seattle: Seahawks busting myths?

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John Abraham set to return to practice on Wednesday

Playoff buzz: Falcons are 2 1/2 point favorites

Playoff matchup: Falcons’ special teams vs. …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons injury report: Moore and Abraham limited »

Playoff matchup: Falcons run offense vs. Seahawks run defense

Here's Michael Turner getting past New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma for yardage during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, November 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Here's Michael Turner getting past New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma for yardage during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, November 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Here’s a look at how the Falcons run offense matches up against the Seahawks run defense.

Falcons’ starters: Running back Michael Turner and fullback Mike Cox.

Falcons’ key reserves: Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Antone Smith.

Seahawks’ starters: Outside linebacker Leroy Hill, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and  outside K.J. Wright.

Seahawks’ reserves: Malcolm Smith, Heath Farwell, Mike Morgan and Allen Bradford (Inactive for Washington playoff game).

Matchup to watch: Turner vs. Wagner

The Seahawks gave up 103.1 yards per game during the regular season, which ranked 10th in the league.

The Falcons, as they transformed into more of passing team this season, ran the ball just as a function of trying to keep defense’s honest.

The Falcons …

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