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The Atlanta Falcons vs. The Seattle Seahawks – The One That Got Away

The Seattle Seahawks have not lost at CenturyLink Field since week 16 of the 2011 season. That win streak perfectly coincides with the arrival of Russell Wilson as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback. It’s no coincidence, but Wilson is not the only factor that carried the Seahawks.

Wilson’s unblemished home winning streak with the Seahawks will be put to the test on Sunday afternoon. However this week, the matter of a defeat on the road — at the hands of the now visiting Atlanta Falcons — is even more on the minds of the Seahawks.

Get back to where you once belonged

This game is about revenge. The Seahawks’ heart-crushing playoff defeat in Atlanta on January 13 of this year ended Seattle’s remarkable romp toward an NFC Championship showdown with the rival San Francisco 49ers. Thanks to a late defensive breakdown that allowed Matt Ryan to move the Falcons into field goal territory, the Seahawks managed to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory; ultimately coming up two points short.

The Seahawks enter this week 10 matchup with the Falcons seeking revenge. Never mind that the Falcons are a mere 2 – 6. Never mind that the Falcons have to travel to Seattle this time and deal with the 12th man. Never mind that the Seahawks’ passing game continues to flounder.

The Seahawks want revenge — revenge for the Falcons stealing what should have been Seattle’s.

Seattle, for its unprecedented 8 – 1 start, has had a rough go of it lately. The Falcons have surely noticed the continued downward spiral of Seattle’s passing game (averaging a mere 200.8 yards per game and slipping down to 27th in the NFL) and some sputtering coming from the Seahawks’ engine that is the running game. The previously dominant Seahawks defense has seen Kellen Clemons and the St. Louis Rams travel 96 yards on them with the game on the line and nearly left the Seahawks in a hole too big to dig out of last week against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The point? Wilson’s stellar home record has been buoyed by a dominant running game and an even more dominant defense. The Seahawks’ passing game is what it is, and is not likely to make a major jump in improvement until Percy Harvin returns and settles in with the offense.

Harvin will not be in uniform on Sunday. Even if he were, it’s important to note that he has never played a game with Russell Wilson. Some adjustment will likely ensue.

It takes two to make a thing go right

Wilson is charged with continuing his home winning streak with a few chinks in the armor of the Seahawks’ previously two most reliable characteristics: defense and running the ball.

Does the Seahawks’ offense have some magic in it? Can the Seahawks’ run defense resume its once dominant form? Sunday would be a good time to find out. Atlanta comes in desperate for a win to remain relevant in the NFC playoff chase. Expect them to use Steven Jackson, their new running back just returned from injury, to test the Seahawks’ recently porous run defense. Seattle has surrendered 10 “explosive” runs in the past two weeks after having surrendered only 10 in the seven previous weeks. The Seahawks’ rush defense has now slipped to 19th in the NFL.

Not a good trend.

Beautiful, no matter what they say

Sure, the Seahawks won ugly the past two weeks. The flip side of that is they found a way to win. Both of their most recent wins required come-from-behind resolve. That’s character that can carry a team, particularly one as talented as the Seahawks.

The Seahawks can effectively end the Falcons’ faint playoff hopes with a win Sunday — much like the Falcons ended the Seahawks’ 2012 season. If the Seahawks want to exact revenge on the Falcons, performances like the Seahawks produced in eight quarters against the Buccaneers and Rams won’t suffice.

Which unit will return to form — the defense or the running game — and carry the Seahawks on its back in Sunday’s revenge game?

Julian Rogers is a freelance writer and communications consultant. Follow him on Twitter (@mrturophile), or connect with him on LinkedIn and Google+.

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