Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks features 1-2 teams with struggling offenses

AP Sports WriterOctober 2, 2011 

SEATTLE -- When Pete Carroll looks at the personnel Atlanta will have against Seattletoday, he can’t fathom a Falcons offense that in two of three games this season failed to score more than one touchdown.

All he sees is Week 2 when the Falcons won a shootout with Philadelphia and looked reminiscent of the team that routed Carroll’s Seahawks a season ago.

“In the tough game with Philadelphia how they just came roaring back and they had all the firepower you could ever want, great leadership with Matt (Ryan) the quarterback, the receivers and Tony Gonzalez,” Carroll said. “Just everything that you could hope to have on a football team, they have. ... So that’s the team we’re preparing for. We know that they have all of that ability and we better get ready.”

Surprisingly though, the Seahawks (1-2) might not be the cure-all the Falcons (1-2) could use when the teams meet today. While Seattle’s offense continues to set one of the early-season standards in futility in the NFC, the Falcons aren’t exactly lighting up scoreboards.

In the opener against Chicago, the Falcons failed to score an offensive touchdown. In last week’s 16-13 loss at Tampa Bay, Atlanta’s offense didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter.

And while a trip to the Pacific Northwest might seem the perfect remedy for the Falcons, they’ll be facing a Seattle defense that’s been the bright spot of a shaky start in Carroll’s second season. The Seahawks have already shut down San Francisco’s Frank Gore in the opener, then did a number on Arizona star Larry Fitzgerald last week, holding him without a catch in the second half for just the eighth time in his career.

Seattle ranks 10th in the league overall so far defensively and 10th against the pass. It’s a huge, albeit early jump from a secondary that ranked 27th last year against the pass.

But they’ll get their biggest test against Ryan and his stable of receivers. Ryan threw for a career-high 330 yards last week against Tampa Bay, with 140 of those going to Roddy White, who finished with nine catches. Rookie Julio Jones added six catches for 115 yards.

“It’s just been a big emphasis on keeping everything in front of us and eliminating the explosive (plays) because that kind of demoralizes the whole defense and that’s when the bad stuff starts creeping in,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “We don’t want to be a liability so we just try our best and take our jobs seriously. We stay late. We just try to get any tips and tendencies that they bring and we go from there.”

Seattle’s defense will look unfamiliar to Ryan. Of the Seahawks starting defense from last year’s Week 15 game the Falcons won 34-18 only five remain.

“There are a few changes, that’s for sure. But (Chris) Clemons on the defensive line is one of the better ones you see,” Ryan said.

Atlanta hasn’t started 1-3 since beginning the 2007 season 1-4. That was the year the Falcons crumbled and eventually landed the No. 1 pick, which turned into Ryan.

Perhaps the most impressive sign of Ryan’s early success is that only twice in three-plus seasons with Ryan as the starter have the Falcons lost consecutive games. But a loss to the Seahawks would leave Atlanta already playing catch-up in the loaded NFC South and with a home game next week against Super Bowl champion Green Bay.

“I think we have high expectations of ourselves and I don’t think anybody would say that we’ve kind of played up to the standards that we set for ourselves,” Ryan said. “But it’s a long season and you have to stay mentally tough and stay patient.”

and keep doing things the right way and trust that we’re going to make plays and we’re going to become more consistent.”

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