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Falcons Take a Step Closer to the South and Home Field in Win Over Seattle

While the Falcons got a gift earlier in the day from the Baltimore Ravens when they topped the Saints in Baltimore, the birds themselves took care of business at Qwest Field, topping the Seattle Seahawks 34-18.

The win clinches a playoff spot, and puts the team at 12-2. A win Monday night over the Saints will clinch that the NFC will run through the Georgia Dome in order to get to Super Bowl XLV.

“I’m very happy for our team and our fans, owner [Arthur] Blank, Thomas [Dimitroff] and the entire organization that we have clinched a playoff berth,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “However, there is still a lot of football to be played.”

Matt Ryan threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-35 passes as Atlanta used a third-quarter surge to put the game out of reach. Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and Jason Snelling all caught a TD pass for the Falcons.

Michael Turner added 82 yards on 25 carries and Jonathan Babineaux recorded a defensive touchdown for Atlanta, which reeled off their eighth straight victory — their most in one season since taking the final nine games of the 1998 campaign.

Matt Hasselbeck didn’t last three quarters, and threw for 71 yards and two interceptions on 10-of-17 passing. Charlie Whitehurst finished the game 8- of-16 for 83 yards and ran for a score for the Seahawks (6-8), who suffered their fourth loss in five games but remained tied atop the NFC West after the Rams lost to Kansas City earlier in the day.

Marshawn Lynch posted 60 yards and a TD on 12 carries while Mike Williams had 66 yards on eight receptions in defeat.

On Seattle’s first drive of the third quarter, it was pinned in the shadow of its own goal line. Hasselbeck dropped back and rolled out into the end zone on first down, but was hit by Jamaal Anderson, fumbled, and Babineaux recovered for a 24-10 Falcons edge.

Hasselbeck was picked off by Brent Grimes on the Seahawks’ next series, and he returned the ball to the Seattle 37. Eight plays later, Matt Bryant was good from 25 yards out.

It was 34-10 for the visitors and under a minute left in the third when Ryan capped the next Atlanta series with a five-yard TD pass to White. Whitehurst ran in from the one with 8:29 remaining, and the conversion pass was good so the Seahawks faced a 16-point hole.

A comeback was not to be as the next Seahawks possession resulted in a punt, and their final drive stalled on a 4th-and-8 from their own 26 when a Whitehurst pass for Williams fell incomplete. Lynch’s one-yard run put Seattle on the board and was the lone score of the first quarter.

Ryan hit Snelling for a three-yard TD to tie the game early in the second before Bryant hit a 27-yard field goal to give Atlanta the lead with 4:51 to play in the half. Olindo Mare nailed a 38-yarder to make it 10-10 on the next series, but the Falcons responded before the end of the half as Jenkins hauled in a 24-yard scoring pass from Ryan.

The Falcons can officially clinch the division and home field for the playoffs when they play the Saints Monday night at the Georgia Dome.

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