Falcons beat Seahawks for first victory of season

AP photo by Ashley Landis / Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts hauls in a pass while covered by Seattle Seahawks safety Josh Jones during Sunday's game. Pitts finished with five catches for 87 yards to help the Falcons win 27-23 in Seattle and avoid what would have been their second 0-3 start in three seasons.

SEATTLE — After more than a week away from home, Cordarrelle Patterson wasn't about to head back to Atlanta as a member of one of two winless teams in the NFL.

"We've been away for eight days. I told them there's no way I'm coming home with a L," Patterson said. "My family would kill me if I was gone that long and lose."

Patterson more than did his part, rushing for a career-high 141 yards and one touchdown, and the Falcons beat the Seattle Seahawks 27-23 on Sunday for their first win of the season.

After narrowly losing last week in Los Angeles against the Rams — the reigning Super Bowl champions — the Falcons remained on the West Coast and spent the week in Seattle preparing for the Seahawks. They'll head back home after managing to avoid joining the Las Vegas Raiders, who lost to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, as the only 0-3 teams in the league.

Patterson rumbled for 107 yards in the second half, and the Falcons were able to dodge what would have been their second 0-3 start in three seasons. Marcus Mariota used the pass game to pick up chunks of yards in the first half, then it was Atlanta's versatile running back churning big plays on the ground.

Patterson said it took time to find run plays that worked. But when those started to hit, there were big gains to be made. Patterson had a key play sequence, running for 40 and 18 yards, that led to rookie receiver Drake London's 14-yard touchdown catch to give Atlanta the lead for good.

"You know it's good when the offensive line says, 'Let's run this play, let's run this play,'" Patterson said.

The 31-year-old Patterson, who has also spent time at wide receiver and kick returner, had a career-best 120 rushing yards in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints and topped it just two weeks later. His 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave Atlanta a 17-10 lead.

Mariota was 13-of-20 for 223 yards and the touchdown to London, who had three catches for 54 yards. Tight end Kyle Pitts had five receptions for 87 yards.

"Seattle did a great job early on kind of boxing us in, and we made some plays in the passing game," Mariota said. "Once you're able to do that, it loosens it up, and our guys up front did a great job with kind of pushing that line of scrimmage."

Seattle quarterback Geno Smith threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted by Richie Grant on a desperation heave on fourth-and-18 from the Atlanta 38-yard line with 1:30 remaining. It was the fourth time in Smith's NFL career he topped 300 passing yards but his first since the 2014 season with the New York Jets.

Smith threw touchdown passes, both in the first half, to Will Dissly and DK Metcalf, who got his first scoring reception of the season.

"Really disappointed that we weren't able to finish that game," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "Was a terrific football game that went back and forth, and there's a lot of good things that happened in this game. Unfortunately, we didn't finish our last drive."

The Seahawks will also likely question the decision to have Jason Myers kick a 25-yard field goal late in the third quarter while facing fourth-and-2 at the Atlanta 7. Seattle called timeout before deciding to kick, rather than go for it.

Atlanta seemed poised for a clinching score midway through the fourth quarter when a mistake by Mariota gave Seattle a chance. The Atlanta quarterback and Tyson Allegier mishandled the handoff, resulting in a fumble with 5:12 remaining. Seattle's Uchenna Nwosu jumped on the loose ball, and Seattle had a chance at driving for a winning touchdown.

"That's on me, in that situation being smarter with the football," Mariota said. "Selfishly, I was trying to close it myself. I thought I could get around the corner."

Smith made a handful of key throws to get Seattle to the Atlanta 24. A key holding penalty on Damien Lewis erased a screen pass to Rashaad Penny that would have put the Seahawks at the Atlanta 10. Grady Jarrett then sacked Smith on third down, and his fourth-down pass for Tyler Lockett was overthrown and picked off by Grant.

Said Smith: "Especially in that situation, with the game on the line, we've got to figure it out."

The game was stopped with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter for about five minutes, apparently because of a drone flying in the area around Lumen Field. Players were sent to the sidelines before the game resumed.

There was also a brief delay because of a drone during Saturday night's Pac-12 football game between Stanford and Washington across town.

"Some interesting thoughts going through your head when they told us to go to the bench," Falcons coach Arthur Smith said, "but luckily nothing happened."

Atlanta hosts the Cleveland Browns (2-1) next Sunday.