By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) – Steven Hauschka’s 44-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining capped the 20th career fourth quarter or overtime comeback for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, and the Seahawks pulled out a wild 26-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
After watching Matt Ryan blitz the Seahawks for 21 third-quarter points, it was Wilson’s turn in the fourth quarter. He led a 70-yarddrive that was capped by Christine Michael’s 1-yard run with 4:47 left, but a blocked extra point by Ra’Shede Hageman still had Seattle trailing 24-23.
Seattle then got a needed big play from its defense. Ryan’s pass slipped through Julio Jones’ hands, was tipped in the air by Richard Sherman and eventually landed in the arms of Earl Thomas, giving Seattle possession at midfield with 3:48 remaining. It was the first time in the game that Jones was targeted and didn’t make the catch.
Seattle stalled at the Atlanta 26. This time Hauschka was perfect after missing a 29-yard attempt earlier in the fourth quarter, the result of a bad snap.
Ryan was incomplete on his last four throws, including a breakup by Sherman on a long pass to Jones on which the Falcons screamed for a pass interference flag.
Wilson was 25 of 37 for 270 yards. Michael had two touchdown runs and rookie Alex Collins added his first NFL touchdown on a 2-yard run.
Atlanta’s top-ranked offense was stymied by the league’s best defense for a half, only to rally in the third quarter and nearly pull off a sweep of Denver and Seattle.
Seattle dominated the line of scrimmage in the first half, hitting Ryan eight times, sacking him three times and holding the Falcons to 86 total yards. Which made what happened in the second half a shocking turnaround.
Ryan finished 27 of 42 for 335 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Jones for a 36-yard score on the first drive of the second half; found Mohamed Sanu on a 10-yard TD; and later connected with Levine Toilolo on a 46-yarder as the Falcons’ rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to lead 24-17 going to the fourth quarter.
Jones had seven catches for 139 yards.
RYAN’S THIRD QUARTER
It was stunning. He was 13 of 17 for 220 yards and three TDs. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Seahawks have held 25 teams to less than 220 yards passing for an entire game.
It helped that Ryan got two huge chunk plays on blown coverages. The first was Jones’ 36-yard touchdown catch , and later Toilolo’s 46-yard TD catch on a similar play.
Sherman lost his cool on the Seattle sideline following Jones’ TD catch early in the third quarter. Sherman’s anger was at the blown coverage that led to Jones being wide open down the sideline, but he was unable to control his emotions on the sideline and was screaming at coaches and teammates. Thomas, Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett and injured Kam Chancellor all took turns trying to calm Sherman.
Seattle was without Chancellor (groin) and defensive end Frank Clark (hamstring). Then Bennett hyperextended his right knee on the play when Sanu caught his touchdown pass to tie the game at 17. Bennett was cut-blocked by Jake Matthews and eventually limped to the locker room. Bennett returned to the sideline midway through the fourth quarter, but did not re-enter the game.
Tight end Luke Willson also injured his right leg on Michael’s late touchdown.
For the first half it looked like it would be a struggle, but Ryan continued his streak of throwing for at least 200 yards in 44 straight road games. Ryan had just 83 yards passing in the first half, but threw for 252 yard in the second half.
The Falcons are home for San Diego.
The Seahawks are at division rival Arizona on Sunday night.