ATLANTA — Roddy White was back. The Atlanta Falcons’ offense wasn’t.
White caught just one pass and the Falcons sputtered like they have most of the disappointing season, losing to the Seattle Seahawks 33-10 on Sunday.
Only a few thousand fans were in the stands at the Georgia Dome when the game came to a merciful ending and almost all of them were Seahawks fans.
What a difference a year makes.
The Falcons edged Seattle 30-28 in the playoffs last season, then came within a play of beating San Francisco for the NFC championship and a trip to the Super Bowl.
Any resemblance, though, between that team, which was 13-3 in the regular season, and this year’s 2-7 Falcons is purely coincidental.
How bad is it? In the past three games, the Falcons have been outscored 94-33.
“It’s definitely not the type of football we’re accustomed to playing around here,” said coach Mike Smith, now squarely on the hotseat.
“Yeah, I think some of the guys are angry,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “I think there are a lot of guys … that expect better of themselves, myself included.”
White, who missed the previous three games and had been hobbled even before that, caught a 20-yard pass over the middle from Ryan on Atlanta’s second possession. But that was the Falcons' only first down of the first quarter and things didn’t get all that much better.
Atlanta’s touchdown drive came courtesy of 35 yards in Seattle penalties and the Falcons had less than 200 yards of total offense until the final minutes of the blowout.
The only good news for Ryan was that he wasn’t intercepted after being picked off seven times in the previous two games. But even then, Seattle would have had a first-quarter pick if Brandon Browner hadn’t dropped the ball.
Once known for fast starts, Atlanta went three-and-out on its opening series for the fourth straight game and fifth time this season.
Steven Jackson, the Falcons’ major addition on offense, had just 11 yards in nine carries against Seattle and Ryan had only 172 yards passing while going 23 of 36.
The Falcons continue to be burned by big plays, with Seattle having gains of 46, 43, 37 and 30 yards in the first half. The Seahawks (9-1) finished with 25 first downs, converting 60 percent of 15 third downs, and 490 net yards.
Marshawn Lynch had 145 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, and Russell Wilson completed 19 of 26 passes for 287 yards and two scores. One of the TDs went for 46 yards to Golden Tate, who had six catches for 106 yards.
The Falcons have given up 28 points per game – among the worst averages in the NFL – and have not held an opponent to less than 23 points in any contest.
One of those two times came against winless Tampa Bay, the only team Atlanta has beaten in the past seven games. The Falcons play at Tampa next Sunday and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, out with a foot injury, is eligible to come off the injured list.
One of the few bright spots against Seattle was the play of rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow, who was in on 19 tackles for the second straight game.
Seattle all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who came in not willing to acknowledge the Falcons’ playoff win last season, got a victory for real at the Georgia Dome and Tony Gonzalez’s jersey as well.
The exchange was made on the field at the end of the game, with Sherman getting a souvenir from the record-setting tight end, who will retire after the season.
“That’s what happens when you’re an old guy and they know it’s your last run,” said Gonzalez, who had three catches for 29 yards. “He’s such a good player. I’m glad I got his jersey. … I’m sure a lot of people are going to be asking for my jersey as the season approaches the end.”
“He’s a Hall of Famer and been a great player in this league for a long time,” Sherman said. “You always respect great players. It’s an honor to play against him.”
Baker out again
Left tackle Sam Baker, bothered all season by knee issues, was inactive against the Seahawks after returning last week at Carolina and the offensive line continued to struggle.
Ryan was sacked two times and hit or hurried on numerous other occasions.
“We just physically didn’t win the line of scrimmage today, on both sides of the football,” Smith said.
Baker, a first-round choice in 2008 out of Southern California who received a contract extension in March, has played in just four games and missed three straight before playing against the Panthers.