Originally published October 1, 2011 at 6:06 PM | Page modified October 2, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Seahawks will find out who they are against Falcons

If you think these Seahawks have a shot to rebound from their 0-2 start, this is precisely the kind of game they just might be able to win.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Atlanta @ Seattle,

1:05 p.m., Ch. 13

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Have you talked yourself into it yet?

Do you think these Seahawks have more than a puncher's chance today against the Atlanta Falcons?

The answer reveals a fundamental truth about your perspective on this Seahawks season. Either you see this season half full or you're reasonably certain Seattle's chances at defending its division title were D.O.A. and all that's left to decide is how high Seattle drafts to choose its next quarterback.

If you think these Seahawks have a shot to rebound from their 0-2 start, this is precisely the kind of game they just might be able to win. If you think this season is going to be a four-month swirlie in the league toilet, you're also pretty certain Atlanta is going to spend Sunday afternoon dragging the Seahawks around CenturyLink Field.

Because while the Falcons and Seahawks have the same 1-2 record, the Falcons have the emerging star quarterback in Matt Ryan and began the season considered a league heavyweight.

"This is a great opportunity for us," coach Pete Carroll said, "because this is such a good team, and we know that."

The Seahawks saw that a year ago when they hosted the Falcons in Week 15. Seattle hung with Atlanta in the first half, trailing 17-10, before imploding. Seattle committed three turnovers on its first three possessions of the second half and lost by 16.

"We know what they're all about," Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "They're about good, fundamental football. Mistake-free, no turnovers, limited penalties, just playing really good football and that's what was impressive to us as a team last year when we played against them."

The Falcons finished 13-3 last season, best record in the NFC, but have struggled this year. Atlanta has given up 13 sacks this season, and the Michael Turner-led ground game the Falcons rely upon is going right into the teeth of Seattle's defensive strength.

The Bears and the Bucs showed the formula for beating the Falcons this year, which requires a 60-minute dose of stout defense.

"We've got to play sound defense," said linebacker David Hawthorne. "We've got to be clicking on a bunch of phases. We've got to affect the quarterback because Matt Ryan is a great quarterback, but you can't ever take your focus off of Turner."

Seattle is at home, where its pass rush gets a boost, and the Falcons are three time zones west with the defending Super Bowl champion Packers on the schedule next week.

You can talk yourself into the idea that the Seahawks — who haven't scored a touchdown in the first half this season — has a shot. Seattle's offensive line looked better last week, the defense didn't allow a point in the second half, and if you get a turnover or three from Atlanta — not a stretch considering the Falcons have committed an NFC-high eight turnovers — then Seattle might just be able to climb back to .500.

But that would mean you're putting your hopes on a team that has scored 30 points this season, third fewest in the league. They rank 31st in yards gained, and their only rushing touchdown is by the quarterback who scored on a scramble only after he failed to see Mike Williams open in the end zone last week against Arizona.

The Seahawks are coming off a home game against Arizona, which an impartial observer would say was the most winnable of the first five games on Seattle's schedule. Sure, the Seahawks won, but it was by three points in a game where the Cardinals missed two field goals.

So does Seattle have a shot?

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