Falcons survive Seattle rally with late field goal

Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:35pm EST
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(Reuters) - The top-seeded Atlanta Falcons needed a last-minute field goal for a nerve-jangling 30-28 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday after squandering a 20-point lead in an exhilarating fourth quarter.

Atlanta will now host the San Francisco 49ers on January 20 in the National Football Conference championship game with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line.

Matt Bryant's 49-yard field goal with eight seconds to play put Atlanta ahead after the visiting Seahawks turned the game around in astonishing fashion with three touchdowns in the final quarter, almost pulling off one of the greatest National Football League playoff comebacks.

After trailing 27-7 at the end of the third, Seattle grabbed a one-point lead with 31 seconds left in the game but Bryant's kick undid all that work.

"All in all it was an extraordinary game, exquisite combat," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

It was a remarkable comeback attempt from Seattle, which would have been just the fourth time a team overcame a 20-point deficit in the post-season.

There was time for more drama as Atlanta botched the kickoff after Bryant's field goal, allowing Seattle possession on their 46 yard line but rookie quarterback Russell Wilson's Hail Mary throw to the end zone was intercepted as time expired.

There were brows being wiped around the Georgia Dome at the end of the battle, which gave Atlanta their first playoff win in the era of head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan.

In the previous three attempts, Atlanta had crashed out of the playoffs without a win but for three quarters of Sunday's game they looked like a team determined to end that run.   Continued...

Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (R) kicks the winning field goal with holder Matt Bosher to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in their NFL NFC Divisional playoff football game in Atlanta, Georgia January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Keane