NFL playoffs: Falcons edge Seahawks on late field goal

Matt Bryant kick saves Atlanta after furious Seattle rally

  • Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) reacts to his game winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) reacts to his game winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank reacts with Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel on the sidelines after an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank reacts with Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel on the sidelines after an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Atlanta Falcons center Todd McClure (62) celebrates on the sidelines following kicker Matt Bryant's winning 49-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter of their NFC divisional playoff NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton) Atlanta Falcons center Todd McClure (62) celebrates on the sidelines following kicker Matt Bryant's winning 49-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter of their NFC divisional playoff NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)
  • Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) sits on the bench during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) sits on the bench during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson leaves the field after shaking hands with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan after an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson leaves the field after shaking hands with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan after an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (11) intercepts a pass on a Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson Hail-Mary pass during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (11) intercepts a pass on a Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson Hail-Mary pass during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) reacts to his game winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) reacts to his game winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons guard Peter Konz (66) blocks Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (92) as quarterback Matt Ryan (2) drops back to pass during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons guard Peter Konz (66) blocks Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (92) as quarterback Matt Ryan (2) drops back to pass during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) picks up the ball after Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown  during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) picks up the ball after Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice (18) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice (18) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 30-28. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate (81) gets past Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) for a touchdown reception during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate (81) gets past Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) for a touchdown reception during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) works against Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) and free safety Earl Thomas (29) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) works against Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) and free safety Earl Thomas (29) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) breaks up a pass intended Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) breaks up a pass intended Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) works against Seattle Seahawks DeShawn Shead (35) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) works against Seattle SeahawksDeShawn Shead (35) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant (23) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant (23) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) works against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant (23) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) works against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant (23) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball into the end zone as Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) looks on during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball into the end zone as Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) looks on during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) reacts to a turnover as Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) looks on during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) reacts to a turnover as Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) looks on during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs past Atlanta Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann (71) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs past Atlanta Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann (71) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate catches a touchdown pass in front of Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28)  during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate catches a touchdown pass in front of Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Atlanta Falcons fullback Jason Snelling (44) celebrates his touchdown run with quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons fullback Jason Snelling (44) celebrates his touchdown run with quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) works against Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) works against Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) makes the catch under Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) makes the catch under Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) makes a touch-down catch against Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) makes a touch-down catch against Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) misses a catch as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) defends during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) misses a catch as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) defends during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller (86) makes the catch against Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller (86) makes the catch against Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • ** FILE ** Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) prepares to catch a touchdown ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)** FILE ** Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) prepares to catch a touchdown ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Seattle Seahawks' Red Bryant (79) tries to stop Atlanta Falcons' Jacquizz Rodgers (32) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks' Red Bryant (79) tries to stop Atlanta Falcons' Jacquizz Rodgers (32) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons' Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons' Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) tries to get away from Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas (29) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) tries to get away from Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas (29) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) his hit by Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) and Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) his hit by Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) and Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs past Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner (39) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs past Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner (39) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA — Matt Bryant pumped his fist and celebrated atop the Falcons logo in the middle of the field. Tony Gonzalez broke down in tears. Matt Ryan relished the thought of not having to answer a familiar question.

The Atlanta Falcons finally showed they could win a playoff game.

And, wow, what a game it was!

After a historic meltdown in the fourth quarter, the Falcons pulled off a comeback that will long be remembered in championship-starved Atlanta. Ryan completed two long passes and Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining, lifting the NFC’s top seed to a stunning 30-28 victory over Russell Wilson and the gutty Seattle Seahawks in a divisional game Sunday.

“Wow!” said Falcons coach Mike Smith, summing up this classic as well as anyone could.

Atlanta (14-3) squandered a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, falling behind for the first time all day when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left and Ryan Longwell knocked through the extra point for a 28-27 lead.

No team has ever won a playoff game when facing such a daunting deficit in the final period.

A pair of Matty Ices — Ryan and Bryant — made sure the Falcons didn’t become the first.

Ryan, shaking off his struggles in three previous playoff losses and two interceptions against the Seahawks, hooked up with Harry Douglas on a 29-yard pass in front of the Falcons bench, and Smith quickly signaled a timeout. Then, Ryan went down the middle to his favorite target Gonzalez, a Hall of Famer-to-be playing what could’ve been his final game.

Gonzalez hauled in the 19-yard throw, and Smith called his final timeout with 13 seconds remaining. Instead of risking another play and having the clock run out, he sent Bryant in for the field goal try.

The Seahawks called time just before the ball was snapped, and Bryant’s kick sailed right of the upright. That turned out to be nothing more than practice. The next one was right down the middle as Bryant took off in the other direction, pumping his fist before he was mobbed by his teammates.

“Our quarterback is a special player,” Smith said. “They call him Matty Ice, but I feel like we’ve got two Matty Ices. There’s Matty Ice Ryan and Matty Ice Bryant.”

The Falcons overcame their reputation for choking in the playoffs, winning their first postseason game since 2004. They’ll host San Francisco in the NFC championship game next Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

“Nobody flinched,” Ryan said. “We just kept battling, kept doing what we do. That’s been the makeup of our team all season.”

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