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Grady Jarrett Stars for Falcons Defense in Win at Seahawks

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett had a quiet season statistically a year ago, but there was nothing mute about his performance in Sunday's win over the Seattle Seahawks.

For three quarters, the Atlanta Falcons couldn't stop the Seattle Seahawks and quarterback Geno Smith.

Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees' unit was staring down an all-too-familiar headline: Falcons Defense Struggles as Late Lead Slips Away.

The Seahawks had the ball inside the Atlanta 25-yard line, and a screen pass to rookie running back Kenneth Walker put them inside the 10 - except a holding penalty brought it back. A quick strike from Smith to receiver DK Metcalf set up a critical 3rd-and-8 following the two-minute warning.

Atlanta's been in this position several times before, just one stop - one play - away from securing the game. Often, however, it's been unable to execute.

But not this time.

All-Pro defensive tackle Grady Jarrett wasn't going to let it happen again. Much as he had all game, Jarrett burst through the line of scrimmage and sacked Smith for a loss of 10. 

With the game on the line on 4th-and-18, Smith was forced from the pocket and overthrew receiver Tyler Lockett, right into the waiting arms of Falcons safety Richie Grant. Atlanta salted away the final 90 seconds and ultimately departed Lumen Field with a 27-23 victory, its first of the season.

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Despite the rough start, the Falcons' defense rose to the occasion when the game truly mattered most - after Atlanta's offense put together a quick-strike touchdown drive to take the lead right before the start of the fourth quarter. Seattle's two drives in the game's final quarter ended with a punt and interception.

The win capped off another stellar effort from Jarrett, who's proving the Falcons right for giving him a three-year contract extension over the offseason. The 29-year-old Jarrett recorded five tackles, three tackles-for-loss, one sack and a quarterback hit.

Jarrett now has more sacks and tackles for loss through three games than he had all of last season. His numbers against Seattle alone would've matched the output - instead, they serve as a clear statement that he's just as good as ever and primed for a bounce-back campaign.

Individual performance aside, Jarrett has been on a roller-coaster ride with the Falcons since arriving in 2015. But yet, he signed on anyways, looking to establish a culture centered around winning. On Sunday, he played 85 percent of the defensive snaps, because that's what he had to do to win.

In the end, Atlanta needed every last snap - and play - that Jarrett had to offer. But for Jarrett, the hard-fought road victory was more than that - it embodied who he is, what he's about and why he ultimately decided to return.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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