Updated Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 11:05 PM
ATLANTA — The most prolific game in tight end Zach Miller's career started off on the wrong foot Sunday.
He suffered a torn plantar fascia on the third play, and was taken to the locker room where he had a painkilling shot.
Miller returned to catch eight passes for 142 yards, both game-highs. It was nothing short of remarkable, not just because of his injury, but because he had never had more than 59 yards in any game as a Seahawk. That receiving total was a career-high for Miller, who played four seasons with the Raiders before signing with Seattle last year.
"It was nice to get some balls like that," Miller said. "But I'm disappointed that we didn't win when we were so close. If there is any solace, I don't feel it right now."
Miller's receiving total was one yard off Darrell Jackson's franchise record for receiving yards in a playoff game.
Receiver Golden Tate caught six passes for 103 yards. It was the second time in three games he hit triple digits, as he caught three passes for 105 yards in the regular-season finale against St. Louis.
Backup tight end Anthony McCoy was the only player to surpass 100 yards receiving during the first 15 regular-season games, but Seattle had three such performances the past three weeks.
The absence of Seattle's top pass rusher Chris Clemons loomed large. Not only did the Seahawks finish without a sack of Atlanta's Matt Ryan, but they were prompted to blitz more often than usual in an attempt to pressure him.
"We felt like we had to, to get pressure," coach Pete Carroll said.
While one of those blitzes resulted in a first-quarter interception when Marcus Trufant hit Ryan as he threw a pass that linebacker Bobby Wagner picked off, the Seahawks also blitzed on each of the Falcons' last two pass attempts. Ryan completed both of those throws, gaining 41 yards in 12 seconds to set up the winning field goal.
Kick, then screaming
Carroll was visibly upset after the Seahawks were granted a timeout with 13 seconds left as the Falcons were lining up to prepare to attempt the game-winning field goal.
He wasn't mad at the timeout being granted — he clearly called it. He was upset Falcons kicker Matt Bryant was allowed to take what amounted to a practice kick after the timeout — which went wide right.
"You remember the guy (Saturday) night that took the practice kick?" Carroll said after the game. "The officials told us before the game that nobody is going to get a chance to do that. You don't get to do that."
Well, Bryant did. Carroll wanted to challenge the officials on what they would do about it.
"Obviously, they didn't know what to do about it," Carroll said.
Bryant made the 49-yard game-winner when play resumed.
Richard Sherman, as he usually does, caught the attention of the Atlanta players. Early in the game when the Falcons tried unsuccessfully to throw in his vicinity, he circled his fingers near his head to apparently indicate they were crazy to do so.
Falcons receiver Roddy White was asked what he said to Sherman after he got behind the cornerback on a 47-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
"He's a bit of a talker," White said, "so I just asked him to talk to me for a little while. He didn't have too much to say after that play, so he kind of walked to the sidelines. Other than that, that was about it."
After the game, in the Falcons locker room, veteran cornerback Asante Samuel walked through yelling, "Humble pie. Humble pie for Richard Sherman. Tell him I said that." Samuel also expressed the same "humble pie" sentiment for Carroll.
Wilson wows — again
Even in defeat, Russell Wilson earned the admiration of the Atlanta Falcons after nearly rallying Seattle from a 20-point deficit.
"That dude is going to be a big problem for defenses in the league," said Falcons safety William Moore. "I came away very, very impressed with his game. He can do it all — he can run, he can throw, and he has the moxie you like to see in good quarterbacks. He was truly a game-changer and playmaker for their Seattle ballclub."
Added Atlanta coach Mike Smith: "Early in the week, I asked (defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan who did he play like. He said Fran Tarkenton. Of course, you tell the players Fran Tarkenton, half of them don't know who he is, but he's a special player. He is used extremely well."
• One key to Atlanta's victory was its rushing attack. The Falcons had finished 29th in the NFL averaging 87.3 yards per game, but they almost doubled that Sunday with 167 yards. Michael Turner carried 14 times for 98 yards, while former Oregon State star Jacquizz Rodgers had 10 carries for 64 yards, including a career-best 45-yard gain to end the first quarter.
• The Seahawks lost in the second round of the playoffs for the fourth time in the last seven seasons. Seattle is 2-5 in the divisional playoffs.
|Seahawks tight end Zach Miller caught eight passes for 142 yards Sunday, including a 3-yard touchdown pass. It was the second-most yards by a Seahawk in a playoff game.|
|143||Darrell Jackson||vs. Washington, Jan. 14, 2006||Win, 20-10|
|142||Zach Miller||at Atlanta, Jan. 13, 2013||Loss, 30-28|
|137||John L. Williams||at Cincinnati, Dec. 31, 1988||Loss, 21-13|
|132||Steve Largent||at Houston, Jan. 3, 1988||Loss, 23-20 (OT)|
JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Zach Miller pulls in a 3-yard touchdown pass that cut the Seahawks' deficit to six points with just over nine minutes left in the game.