The last time the Falcons played in Seattle, cornerback Richard Sherman and Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones played a central role in the outcome. Sherman was not called for an apparent pass interference penalty when he dragged Jones to the turf.
Sherman suffered an Achilles injury Thursday against the Cardinals and is out of the season. The Falcons (5-4) play the Seahawks (6-3) at 8:30 p.m. on Monday Night Football in a big NFC showdown with playoff implications.
The Falcons are chasing the Saints (7-2) and the Panthers (7-3) in the NFC South. The Seahawks are tracking the surprising Los Angeles Rams (7-2) in the NFC West. The winner gets the head-to-head advantage in a possible wildcard scenario.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who was formerly Seattle’s defensive coordinator, reached out to Sherman after his gruesome injury.
“I texted with him afterwards just because he’s such a competitor, so his response was, ‘Tell J.J., I’ll miss competing against him,’” Quinn said. “He brings out the best, so he’s always thinking in terms of a competitor.”
Sherman, a three-time All-Pro, is going to be missed by the Seahawks.
“He’s such a competitor,” Quinn said. “He wants the challenges. He’s an excellent tackler. So any time a guy is out, you feel it, but that’s also what playing in our league is, where guys have to step up in different opportunities, and every team deals with it, and they’ll be equipped to deal with it, as well.”
The Seahawks signed Byron Maxwell, who played with them from 2011-14. He worked out for the Falcons on Nov. 6.
The Seahawks are likely to get free safety Earl Thomas back. He missed their past two games with a hamstring injury.
“I think he’ll make it back,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said on his radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle on Monday. “He felt like he probably could have played had he gotten couple days of practice. It worked out great, we made it through the game, Bradley (McDougald) did a great job filling in for him.”
Carroll wants to see Thomas back at practice first.
“Now, he has to make it through the days, but I think he’ll be just fine,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks are also hoping to have hard-hitting strong safety Kam Chancellor back. He sustained a stringer against the Cardinals.
“We’re going to make sure that he’s in good shape and he’s OK,” Carroll said. “Don’t know right now. He’s going to get some tests and make sure. This is the stuff that’s just so crucial we do a really good job and take our time with it and all that. We’re doing that.”
Also, left tackle Duane Brown, who was acquired in a trade with the Texans, suffered an ankle injury and is “wait and see” player, too.
“We’ll find out,” Carroll said. “You saw, that was a pretty dangerous situation right there. It will take one day at a time here to kind of assess how he does.”
After starting the season 1-2, the Seahawks have won five of the last six games, including a 22-16 victory over the Cardinals.
The Seahawks have been missing their hard-charging rushing attack this season as they’ve used five different running backs.
Rookie running back Chris Carson, the former Parkview High standout, may return against the Falcons. He rushed for 208 yards on 49 carries before being injured.
Carson, who opened the season as the starter, is on injured reserved. He is a candidate to return after eight weeks.
“We really felt a direction, Chris really took us off in a direction, we really thought we had something special going there, which I think we saw,” Carroll said. “He’s coming back too. He has a chance to make it back. There’s a chance, yeah. He is doing remarkably well in his rehab.”
The Seahawks have also used Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic at running back. The speedy McKissic was one of the Falcons’ last cuts in 2016.
“So (running back) has been in flux, it hasn’t been steady, and it’s been like that for more than this season,” Carroll said.
Quarterback Russell Wilson leads the Seahawks in rushing with 290 yards on 51 carries and one touchdown.
Wilson has completed 210 of 335 (62.7 percent) passes for 2,543, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has a passer rating of 97.4.
“We have to defend two plays, one in the pocket and one when he gets outside,” Quinn said on his radio show with Wes Durham and Dave Archer on 92.9 The Game. “They (have) an excellent tight end (Jimmy Graham) that they get targets to and they’ve got some guys, and not only is (wide receiver) Doug Baldwin, a good change of direction player, but he can also take shots down the field as well as (wide receiver Paul) Richardson. Russ has a really strong arm.”