Atlanta Falcons: View from Seattle: Seahawks defined by ‘toughness’

Michael Robinson says the Seahawks want to "keep plugging away." (Photo: Seahawks)

Michael Robinson says the Seahawks like to ‘keep plugging away’ (Photo: Seahawks)

Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer says the Sehawks’ offense has developed an identity against its opponents: “Take them to a point they’re unwilling to match:

More than athleticism, more than skill, more than desire, the Seahawks are defined by their toughness.

They aim to take every football game to a physical and mental brink. Can the opponent go there? Or rather, will the opponent go there? This season, the answer has often determined whether the game will be a competition or an endurance challenge that only suits the Seahawks’ stamina. . . .

They’re coming straight at you, at maximum speed, again and again and again.

Can you match it? Will you match it?

“We’re going to be physical and consistent,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “And we’re going to do it until the other team can’t do it anymore.” . . .

The Seahawks’ mantra against Washington: Do what you do — better. It figures. No …

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Playoff buzz: There are 9,000 tickets available for ’sold out’ game

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Falcons vs. Seahawks

The Falcons were 4-1 and the Seahawks were 3-2 against common opponents during the regular season. But none of those common opponents qualified for the playoffs. The Falcons (regular season) and Seahawks (wild-card round) each won at Washington when quarterback Robert Griffin III was hobbled.

So Jeff Schultz, writing for his ajc.com blog, compared the teams in another way: how each fared against the other teams in the playoff field. It turns out the Falcons are the only team that went undefeated against the rest of the field, but they also played the fewest playoff teams.

The Falcons beat Denver, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and Washington, which played a wild-card team after winning the NFC East. Seattle was 4-1 against teams that eventually made the playoffs.

The Seahawks beat the AFC’s No. 2 seed, New England, and the NFC’s No. 3 seed, Green Bay. The Seahawks also defeated NFC wild-card team Minnesota and split two games against …

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Atlanta Falcons: Coordinators talk about their head coaching interviews

Mike Nolan, Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

Mike Nolan, Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — All of the Falcons’ coordinators have had interviews for head coaching positions.

Special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong had interviews with Chicago, Kansas City and Philadelphia. Kansas City hired Andy Reid.

He didn’t want to comment about his interviews.

“I’d love to talk about the Seattle Seahawks,” Armstrong said.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan had an interview with Philadelphia.

Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong units were ranked second in the league last season by FootballOutsiders.com    Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong units were ranked second in the league last season by FootballOutsiders.com Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

“I’m flattered that they wanted to talk, and I enjoyed it,” Nolan said. “Outside of that … hopefully we keep playing and so the process will be a long one.”

Nolan was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2005-08 and posted an 18-37 record.

“They are a great organization and have a tremendous owner, much like we do here,” Nolan said. …

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Atlanta Falcons: Russell Wilson’s game has the respect of Smith, Nolan

FLOWERY BRANCH — First, in order to give the Falcons’ defense a really good scouting look, quarterback Dominique Davis has to shrink four inches.

The Falcons’ third-string quarterback is 6-foot-3, but he will impersonate the 5-11 Russell Wilson this week in preparation for the divisional playoff game against Seattle at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

“Dominique has gotten a lot of work for us this season,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We’ve played some running quarterbacks, and he’ll be the guy trying to simulate (Wilson).”

Davis was inactive for all 16 regular-season games, but he has earned his keep in practice. He has imitated Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick.

Wilson, a third-round pick from Wisconsin who started his career at N.C. State, has been one of the surprises of the 2012 season.

“Offensively, it starts with what their quarterback is doing,” Smith said. “He does a very good job of running their offense. You have to account for him as a …

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Atlanta Falcons: David Caldwell named Jacksonville’s general manager

FLOWERY BRANCH — David Caldwell, the Falcons’ director of player personnel, accepted the position of general manager with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday.

Dave Caldwell
David Caldwell

“Dave is a very bright, adept and organized talent evaluator,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “He has a very sound understanding of team building and player acquisition. Dave has been an integral member of our scouting department and has demonstrated excellent leadership as the director of college scouting and as the director of player personnel. I have complete confidence in Dave, and I know that he will excel in his new role as the general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Caldwell interviewed with the Jaguars three times. He was also had two interviews with the New York Jets for the same position.

Caldwell will replace Gene Smith and have to make a decision on head coach Mike Mularkey.

Caldwell was in his first season as the Falcons director of player personnel in 2012. He …

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Playoff matchup: Falcons’ pass offense vs. Seahawks’ pass defense

eattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman (25) talks with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

eattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman (25) talks with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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

Falcons’ starters: Quarterback Matt Ryan (Pro Bowler). Wide receiver Roddy White and Julio Jones (Pro Bowler). Tight end Tony Gonzalez (Pro Bowler).

Falcons’ key reserves: Harry Douglas, Drew Davis and Michael Palmer. Luke McCown is the backup quarterback.

Seahawks’ starters: Left cornerback Richard Sherman, right cornerback Brandon Browner, free safety Earl Thomas (Pro Bowler) and strong safety Kam Chancellor.

Seahawks’ reserves: Safeties Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos and Winston Guy. Cornerbacks Marcus Trufant, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead.

Matchup to watch: Jones and White vs. Browner and Sherman.

After season-ending injuries to Marcus Trufant and …

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Atlanta Falcons playoffs rewind: Steve Bartkowski

(Photo: Atlanta Falcons)

(Photo: Atlanta Falcons)

Who: Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski

What: NFC wild card playoff game, Eagles vs. Falcons

When: Dec. 24, 1978

Where: Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium

Score: Falcons 14, Eagles 13

What happened: In their 13th season as an expansion franchise in Atlanta, the Falcons qualified for the playoffs for the first time … and won.

After finishing over .500 just once since beginning play in 1966, Atlanta posted a 9-7 record in the 1978 regular season. That was four games behind the Los Angeles Rams in the old NFC West but good enough to earn one of two NFC wild card berths.

Bartkowski, Atlanta’s No. 1 overall pick in the 1975 draft, had won back the starting job from June Jones early in the season and led the team to an 8-5 record as the starter. Atlanta lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the regular-season finale but still hosted a playoff game.

The Eagles brought in a stout defense and Bartkowski said he was so wrapped up in preparation that he didn’t feel …

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Atlanta Falcons: View from Seattle: Seahawks busting myths?

Did Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks bust some myths at Washington? (Mark Slocum/AP)

Did Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks bust some myths at Washington? (Mark Slocum/AP)

The Seahawks won 24-14 at Washington on Sunday and, according to Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times, busted three “tired, outdated or just flat-out wrong” myths in the process.

Here’s O’Neil’s take with the AJC’s comments:

I. Seattle is wasting a championship-caliber defense.

This was the chorus in September after the Seahawks scored fewer than 20 points in four of their first five games. . . . Well, Seattle’s offense has come a long way since then, its relentless ground game combining with an increasingly aggressive game plan for its effective young quarterback to create an efficient, above-average NFL offense.

Comment: Can’t fade that analysis. Those 42 points the Seahawks hung on the 49ers speak volumes even when accounting for a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Sure, the Cardinals had eight turnovers in a 58-0 defeat but it’s rare for any NFL team to give up that many points (and the …

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Atlanta Falcons: Seattle end Chris Clemons is out for the playoffs

Seattle will be without their top pass rusher Chris Clemons when they face the Falcons. (Associated Press)

Seattle will be without their top pass rusher Chris Clemons when they face the Falcons. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons, the former Georgia standout from Griffin, is out for the divisional playoff game against the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll updated the media on his availability on Monday.

“We’ll miss him,” said coach Pete Carroll according to the Seattle Times. “[It's] a big loss for us in a lot of ways. Chris has been a great football player, just a symbol of consistency for the years we’ve had them. But he’s been a great leader for us and a tough dude, and a guy we just have become very comfortable with.”

Clemons suffered the knee injury in the second half of Sunday’s 24-14 win over the Washington Redskins. The injury, a torn anterior cruciate ligament and damage meniscus, will require surgery.

Clemons, who was undrafted, has 33.5 sacks since 2010, which is tied for sixth best in the …

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Falcons determined to have a playoff breakthrough

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo said he didn’t have a preference.

To him, it didn’t matter if the Falcons faced Seattle, Minnesota or Washington in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

But given their recent playoff history, Clabo and his teammates will stare across the line at the hottest team in the league … again.

The Seahawks, winners of six straight, advanced to face the Falcons, who are hoping to end a four-game playoff losing streak that dates back to the Jim Mora era.

Last season, the Falcons played the streaking New York Giants. After the 2010 season, they played the transformed Green Bay Packers. Back in 2008, it was the Arizona Cardinals, who rallied late in the season on their way to the …

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