ATL-SEA grades: Julio Jones bests Richard Sherman, but Seahawks get win

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Seahawks' 26-24 win over the Falcons.

| 8 months ago
Julio Jones vs Richard Sherman

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

ATL-SEA grades: Julio Jones bests Richard Sherman, but Seahawks get win

Seattle Seahawks 26, Atlanta Falcons 24

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Seahawks’ late 26-24 win over the Falcons.

Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback grade: Russell Wilson, 73.3

Wilson smooth and consistent against Falcons

Russell Wilson dropped back to pass 42 times, completing 25 of 37 pass attempts with five drops and a throwaway for 270 yards. Wilson faced pressure on 11 dropback passes, and was three of 10, but had four of those drops under pressure. Wilson spread the ball to a variety of receivers and kept plays alive with his legs to find targets breaking open in coverage.

Russell Wilson vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

C Justin Britt, 76.6

T Bradley Sowell, 73.7

QB Russell Wilson, 73.3

WR Doug Baldwin, 70.6

WR Jermaine Kearse, 70.1

Seattle offense starts fast and rallies late

The Seahawks found success early with the zone-running attack that has been a staple for years in their offense. Christine Michael led the Seattle running game, averaging 3.22 yards after contact on 18 rushes. Wilson’s favorite target on the day was TE Jimmy Graham. Wilson threw to Graham nine times, with the former Saint hauling in six receptions while dropping two catchable passes. Wilson’s playmaking down the stretch in the clutch, however, was the difference in the game.

Top defensive grades:

DE Michael Bennett, 85.8

S Earl Thomas, 85.7

CB DeShawn Shead, 84.4

LB K.J. Wright, 75.4         

S Kelcie McCray, 71.2

Seahawks’ defense effective early, blows coverages in second half

Before leaving with injury, Michael Bennett was a man possessed, harassing the quarterback and making tackles. Bennett had five hits on Matt Ryan and one hurry in only 11 pass-rushing snaps. Earl Thomas was fantastic in the secondary for the Seahawks, causing multiple incompletions with his hits on receivers. On the down side, Richard Sherman (37.2 overall grade versus Falcons) struggled, targeted seven times by Matt Ryan, yielding five completions for 92 yards, and having some coverage busts that almost cost the Seahawks the game. Against Julio Jones specifically, Sherman had five targets into his coverage, surrendering three receptions to Jones for 40 yards.

Atlanta Falcons

Quarterback grade: Matt Ryan, 83.2

Matt Ryan earns solid marks in loss

Matt Ryan dropped back to pass 46 times, attempted 42 passes, and completed 27 with two drops and two throwaways. He tested the Seahawks downfield, attempting seven passes of 20 yards or longer, completing three such throws for 106 yards. Ryan played well, and his grades reflect it.

Matt Ryan vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

QB Matt Ryan, 83.2

WR Julio Jones, 83.0

C Alex Mack, 77.0

G Andy Levitre, 74.7

T Ryan Schraeder, 74.3

Ryan to Jones brings the Falcons back

Ryan targeted Jones nine times, with the Falcons’ wideout catching seven passes for 139 yards. He also had an untimely drop that led to a pick and the Seahawks’ game-winning field goal. Jones didn’t square off a lot with Sherman in one-on-one coverage situations due to the Seahawks’ scheme, but he had his way with pretty much any defender near him. The Falcons found success in the second half with their stretch running game while mixing in the play-action off the stretch run action. Nearly 25 percent of Ryan’s passes were off of play action, which is a cornerstone of the Kyle Shanahan offense. The Falcons’ variance of formations and stretching the ball downfield caused havoc in the Seahawks’ secondary.

Top defensive grades:

DT Grady Jarrett, 83.2

DE Derrick Shelby, 80

CB Desmond Trufant, 79.6

S Ricardo Allen, 78

LB Deion Jones, 77.7

Falcons defense sputters early, and then late

The Falcons struggled in the first half, giving up chunks on the ground and in the air, but as the game went on, played better and forced punts, helping Atlanta to take the lead, but could not control Russell Wilson enough down the stretch. Grady Jarrett and Derrick Shelby played well for the Falcons up front.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Falcons QB Matt Ryan

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst

Taylor is an offensive line and run-game specialist at Pro Football Focus. He has coached at every level of college football, with experience at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Central Missouri, and Wyoming.

  • rodrell green

    Kind of hard to pick against the Falcons the next two weeks now huh?

    • Marcus Bruno

      Wait, the Falcons wouldn’t have been in contention at all if it wasn’t for 2 blown coverages. I’m not a fan of either teams, but the game was pretty much dominated by Seattle. The Falcons were average, then jumped on easy opportunities. This is not the game to claim Falcons proved themselves. Literally every other game except this and the TB game they were awesome, so I don’t think they need to “prove” anything. But this specific game is definitely not the reason to call them a threat

      • rodrell green

        Why were the coverages busted?

        And none of their future opponents will have nearly as good of a defense.

        • osoviejo

          “Why were the coverages busted?”

          Sounds like they were coverage audibles that weren’t picked up by Kam Chancellor’s replacement–Kelcie McCray. That happens. He otherwise played a nice game, and will get better. The Seahawks like him a lot.

        • AKjester

          The 12s in Seattle are really loud. Generally that is a benefit to the defense, but we have seen a number of times where the defense cannot communicate. There was a point when Michael Bennett had to call a defensive timeout because the Seahawks couldn’t get the defense lined up right.

          I have no idea if the noise was a factor on those blown coverages, but the noise did appear to be a factor in communication for the defense during the game.

  • Vince

    Yes I’m a bias for the seahawks and yes it was DPI on sherman, BUT, the same salty falcons fans have to give me an explanation on the blatant illegal hands to the face julio jones committed to create separation from sherman. You can’t spin this.

    • Carlton

      If they call that penalty they’d have to do it literally every other play.

      Besides, had they called both of them, the penalties would’ve offset and the Falcons would’ve had another shot

      • osoviejo

        “If they call that penalty they’d have to do it literally every other play.”

        Nonsense. For starters, it wasn’t “hands to the face.” It was a head slap, which is a 15-yard personal foul and taken seriously by the league. That move was exactly what Deacon Jones made a meal of. It’s been outlawed for nearly 40 years for a reason.

        • Vince

          pretty ironic that they share the same last name.

        • Suge Wright

          So he would have got called for offensive pass intererence, the penalties would have offset, and the Falcons would have gotten another down. They missed both calls, and it cost the Falcons the game. The one that was blatantly obvious though, and the one that EVERYBODY saw except for the refs, was the obvious DPI against Sherman. Either way it went down, the Falcons should have kept the ball, and they didn’t.

          • osoviejo

            “They missed both calls, and it cost the Falcons the game.”

            Your premise is fine, the conclusion is nothing but thin speculation. The Falcons had just failed repeatedly from their own 25-yard line. Giving them credit for winning the game with one more chance from that spot is uber optimistic, even for a fanboy.

  • Jay

    Just interested to know who was at fault for the Julio Jones touchdown

    • porkymonA

      Fault! Don’t need one unstoppable that’s a better word

  • Jay

    Just wanted to know who was credited with giving up the Julio Jones touchdown

  • AKjester

    Cliff Avril was dominant in the first half – (I didn’t see the second half) – so it is weird to not see him on the list. He pressured the QB around 5 times in the first half including a really important strip sack.

    • Mike Jones

      he pretty much disappeared after those plays….guessing it was a shift in blocking assignments because from late 2nd quarter onward there was still good pressure but it was mostly coming from bennetts side

      • AKjester

        Thanks for the information.

        I like seeing the comment section actually work.

      • gomer_rs

        And Bennett getting injured.