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Sunday, January 13, 2013
Key to Falcons win: Thwarting DB blitz

By ESPN Stats & Information


Kevin Cox/Getty ImagesA clutch kick from Matt Bryant put the Falcons into the NFL Championship Game.
Score one for Matt Ryan. Finally.

Ryan tied the Falcons single-game postseason record for touchdown passes (3), previously set by Chris Miller and Chris Chandler in netting his first postseason win in four tries. The three matched the total number of touchdown throws he had in three previous playoff games.

The story of the game for Ryan was this:

In the first quarter, the first time the Seahawks sent a defensive-back blitz at Ryan, he threw an interception.

Entering Sunday, when the Seahawks blitzed a defensive back, opponents completed only 47 percent of their passes, threw one touchdown and netted five interceptions.

The Seahawks would blitz a defensive back eight more times during the game, but Ryan picked that defensive approach apart. He was 7-for-8 for 111 yards and a touchdown against it the rest of the way.

That included a pair of completions to Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez for 41 yards on the final drive to set up the winning score.

Instead of one of the most epic collapses in NFL postseason history, the Falcons got one of their most remarkable wins. Let’s take a look at some of the other statistical highlights.

He’s Also Matty Ice
Matt Bryant has made his last 10 field goal attempts of at least 49 yards, combining regular season and postseason.

It was Bryant’s second go-ahead field goal of at least that length in the final minute this season. He also had a 55-yard game-winner against the Oakland Raiders in Week 6.

Bryant is 10-for-11 on field goal tries of 49 or more yards dating back to when he joined the Falcons for the 2009 season (the second-most accurate rate of any kicker with at least 10 attempts in that span). He was 5-for-13 on tries that long with other teams from 2005 to 2008.

Going, Going Gonzalez
This was the first time in Tony Gonzalez’s career that he played on the winning team in a playoff game. Gonzalez’s first quarter touchdown catch was his third career postseason touchdown catch.

That gave him 100 fewer touchdown receptions than he has in the regular season.

Wilson valiant in defeat
Russell Wilson broke the longstanding NFL rookie record for passing yards in a postseason game, throwing for 385 in the loss. The mark of 335 was previously set by Sammy Baugh for the 1937 Washington Redskins.

Wilson had an 86.4 Total QBR. Ryan finished with an 85.4 Total QBR. It was the second playoff game in the last five seasons in which a quarterback from each team had a Total QBR of 85 or better (Drew Brees vs Matthew Stafford last season).

Wilson also became the first quarterback with 385 passing yards and 60 rushing yards in a postseason game.

Zach Miller gave Wilson significant help, with 142 receiving yard, one shy of the Seahawks single-game postseason record.

Miller became only the second tight end this season with at least eight targets and a perfect catch percentage (Jason Witten was 13-for-13 against the Chicago Bears earlier this season).

Had the Seahawks won
If the Seahawks had won, they would have been the fourth team to overcome a 20-point deficit to win a postseason game. The three that have are the 1957 Detroit Lions, the 1992 Buffalo Bills and the 2002 San Francisco 49ers.

Looking ahead
The Falcons and 49ers met once in the postseason, with the Falcons beating the 49ers, 20-18 in the 1998 NFC Divisional Playoff round. The Falcons have won four straight regular-season games against the 49ers, with the last win coming in Week 4 in 2010.