FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn admitted being a little sleepless about Seattle.
In reflecting on moments from the regular season that ate at him most and helped mold him into a better coach, Quinn immediately pointed to the Week 6 game against the Seattle Seahawks: a gut-wrenching 26-24 loss. Quinn's disgust wasn't necessarily all related to the controversial late-game, no-call when Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman obviously held Julio Jones.
"That's the hard part of sleeping on Sunday nights, when you go back and you rehash the game," Quinn said. "Maybe not nailing it quite like you want at Seattle. We played terrible in the first half. And then to come back and battle back and take the lead and not finish like we wanted to, those are scars that mean something now. But when you go through them, they're painful to say, 'Shoot, we could have nailed that one and we didn't.'"
The Falcons certainly have a chance for redemption. This Saturday's divisional playoff matchup with the Seahawks (4:35 p.m. ET, Fox) should be quite entertaining, considering the hype surrounding the Falcons' high-powered offense as it goes against a playoff-tested Seattle team.
The Seahawks showed in their 26-6 wild-card win over the Detroit Lions just how stingy they can be on defense, even without injured free safety Earl Thomas (broken fibia) roaming the secondary. They also showed the ability to run the ball down their opponent's throat with the emergence of running back Thomas Rawls, fresh off a 161-yard game.
If the Falcons learned anything from the first meeting, it starts with not turning the ball over against a team that prides itself on creating turnovers. MVP candidate Matt Ryan's first lost fumble of the season -- he had just one other lost fumble and a career-low seven interceptions -- came after a first-quarter sack in Seattle and resulted in a Seahawks touchdown on the very next play. The outcome might have been different had the Falcons gotten off to a fast start, which became the norm for them at the end of the regular season.
"I think to get better, you do have to struggle," Quinn said. "It's painful as hell to go through, but that's where some of the lessons are."
From a defensive perspective, the Falcons certainly got an education on who makes the Seahawks click, as if it wasn't evident well before game time.
"Just the plays that Russell Wilson extended," free safety Ricardo Allen said of what still bugs him from the loss. "He made some plays to the running backs and wide receivers on key downs by using his feet and extending plays."
We'll see if the Falcons learn from their Week 6 mistakes and play a clean game in their first playoff appearance since 2012. Playing at home in the Georgia Dome for perhaps the final time should work to their advantage, especially with the Seahawks having to make the long trip this time around.
The last thing Quinn wants is to sit around this coming Sunday wondering what could have been. That certainly would lead to some sleepless nights.