After losing four fourth-quarter leads last season, then melting down in the Florida heat last week, the Seattle Seahawks were facing what would have been an all-too-familiar defeat Sunday.
The team’s defense saved the day.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, here we go again,’ ” Coach Mike Holmgren said after the Seahawks nearly blew a 21-0 halftime lead, holding on to beat Atlanta, 21-18. The game left each team’s record at 1-1.
Shaun Alexander ran for 144 yards and a touchdown, and Matt Hasselbeck threw for 281 yards and two more touchdowns. Then the defense shut down the Falcons after Atlanta got the ball back with 2:39 left at its 27-yard line with a 21-18 deficit.
Bryce Fisher sacked Michael Vick on third down, then Andre Dyson knocked down a pass intended for Michael Jenkins from Matt Schaub, who twice replaced Vick late in the game when the Atlanta quarterback felt his left leg cramping after a 32-yard run. Fisher fell on Vick as he fell a yard behind the line of scrimmage.
“At the end of the year, I’m telling everybody that’s the greatest rush ever made,” said Fisher, who signed as a free agent from St. Louis and is one of seven new starters on the Seattle defense. “It was a sack anyway, it just helped me that he laid down.”
Vick twice missed Jenkins wide open for what might have been touchdowns, once in the first half and again in the second. He ended up completing 11 of 19 passes for 123 yards and had 11 yards in seven carries aside from that long scramble.
“They played a great defensive scheme,” Vick said. “They did some things that threw us off-balance.”
The Seahawks also created a cushion, scoring on drives of 75, 68 and 80 yards.