The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots won their divisional round NFL playoff games Sunday to advance to the league's final four.
In Atlanta, the Seahawks overcame a 20-point deficit to take a one-point lead, only to find they'd left 31 seconds too many on the game clock. Atlanta took a 20-0 lead in the second quarter thanks to two Matt Ryan touchdown throws and two Matt Bryant field goals. Seattle finally scored five minutes into the second half on a 29-yard Golden Tate toss from Russell Wilson, but a Ryan throw to Jason Snelling at the 13-minute mark seemingly put the game out of reach.
But Wilson engineered two touchdowns in four minutes – one on the ground and one in the air to Zach Miller – to make it a one-score game. The Seahawks then capped off a seeming game-winning drive with a two-yard run from former Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch to give the Hawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left.
That turned out to be just enough time for the Falcons. Two Matt Ryan passes got Atlanta to the Seattle 31-yard line, from where Bryant nailed the game-clinching field goal – which came on his second attempt, as he missed the first but Seattle coach Pete Carroll called a timeout prior to the kick in an attempt to ice him.
The win was the first in the playoffs for Ryan and Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez. Wilson finished with 385 yards on 24-of-36 passing and added 60 rushing yards. Miller accounted for 142 of those receiving yards.
In New England, the Texans made it a game early before the Patriots did what the Patriots tend to do most of the time and pulled away in the second half. After Houston scored 10 points in the final 1:20 of the first half to pull within 17-13, the Patriots got three straight touchdowns to put the game away, thanks to a Stevan Ridley run and Tom Brady passes to Brandon Lloyd and Shane Vereen. Houston got cosmetic touchdowns from Devier Posey and Arian Foster, but a late field goal rounded out the scoring in the Pats' 41-28 win.
Brady was Bradyesque, going 25-of-40 for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Wes Welker caught eight of those passes for 131 yards. Matt Schaub was decent in defeat, going 34-of-51 for 343 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
The Falcons will host the 49ers at 3 p.m. next Sunday (FOX), while the Ravens travel to New Elngland for a rematch of last seasons's AFC title game at 6:30 p.m. (CBS).Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Bills, Football, NFL
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