The Falcons responded with a time-consuming, 14-play drive, capped by Ryan's 5-yard shovel pass to Snelling that seemed to slam the door.

Despite the loss, Carroll and the Seahawks head into the offseason with a lot of promise. Wilson led two comebacks in his first two playoff games, and the Seattle defense emerged as one of the league's best.

"We're mentally strong -- physically strong," said Seattle defensive tackle Alan Branch. "We're just so young. Russell (Wilson) is a great quarterback. He is only a rookie. He can only get better in this league. Who knows. Sky's the limit."

While relieved, Smith said his mind already was turning to the 49ers, who were impressive in a 45-31 win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.

"We've got to figure out how we're going to play better than we did in the second half of the ballgame today," Smith said. "That's where my mindset is. It's already flipped the switch. We've got a good football team coming in here."

Notes: Falcons DE John Abraham re-aggravated his ankle injury he suffered in the regular-season finale against Tampa Bay and left the game in the first half. ... Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons, the Seahawks' leader in sacks (seven), will reportedly meet with Dr. James Andrews regarding his torn anterior cruciate ligament, suffered against the Washington Redskins in the wildcard round of the playoffs. ... White became the Falcons' all-time leader in postseason receptions.