Monday, January 7, 2013
LANDOVER, Md. — The road doesn’t get any easier for the Seahawks, but the NFC’s hottest team isn’t short on confidence.
“It’s just another business trip,” rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner said Sunday of going to Atlanta to face the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
The Seahawks and Falcons play Sunday at 10 a.m. PST, with the winner advancing to the NFC Championship.
Seattle, the NFC’s No. 5 seed, has a six-game winning streak and doesn’t seem intimidated by an Atlanta team that started the season 8-0 and 11-1, but lost two of its past four games.
Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner calls the Falcons “a great matchup for us.”
Browner is talking specifically about the Falcons’ star receivers.
“I think we match up well against those guys, Julio Jones and Roddy White,” he said. “That is going to be a tough test for us, but we are up for the challenge.”
Seattle has a lot going for it.
The Seahawks haven’t lost since Nov. 25, and have outscored their past five opponents 194-57.
“We’ve got a lot of momentum,” said Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright. “We’re going to keep it rolling.”
The Falcons, under coach Mike Smith, are making a franchise-best third consecutive appearance in the playoffs, but are 0-3 in the playoffs under Smith.
If Atlanta is to reverse its recent playoff fortunes, Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan must play well.
“Matt has had a great regular season for us this year,” Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s got the individual accolades. He’s led our team through some tough ballgames and been able to pull them out. Those experiences will help us in the postseason.”
Seattle and Atlanta haven’t met since Oct. 2, 2011 in Seattle.
After leading 27-7, the Falcons held on for a 30-28 victory at CenturyLink Field.
Steven Hauschka missed a 61-yard field goal at the end that could have won it for Seattle.
This is a far different Seahawks team.
Last year, Marshawn Lynch gained only 24 yards on eight carries against the Falcons, which tied for his second lowest game of 2011. Tarvaris Jackson, not Russell Wilson, was the team’s quarterback, although Jackson passed for 319 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions. Ryan had 291 yards and one touchdown.
The Falcons contend this playoff game will be different for them.
“The coaching, the locker room, the brotherhood in the locker room is totally different than 2010,” defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux told the Atlanta newspaper. “I think that guys are eager to get into the playoffs and make our presence known. We are a team that’s going to be able to make this run in the playoffs.”
Staff reporter Danny O’Neil and AJC.com reports contributed to this article.