Deja Vu For The Falcons
by Cheval John
The Atlanta Falcons were looking to erase a reputation of coming up short in big time games.
Everything was going their way after scoring two quick touchdowns and a field goal to take a 17-0 lead against the San Franscisco 49ers.
But the 49ers made plays when it was needed down the stretch and eventually defeated the Falcons 28-24 that punch a ticket to the Super Bowl that will be held in New Orleans on February 3.
The Falcons on the other hand, choked like they have always done before and are now back to the drawing board.
Matt Ryan, who went 30 of 42 for 390 yards and three touchdowns, came apart at exactly the wrong time in the game.
Ryan has been know for engineering comebacks late in the game that he was given the nickname, “Matty Ice.”
He proved why he earned that nickname after he completed two crucial throws in the final seconds of the game that put kicker Matt Bryant in position to kick the game-winning field goal in a 30-28 win against the Seattle Seahawks to advance to the NFC Championship game and helped people to forget that they blew a 20-point lead and almost lost.
He had an excellent first half, where he schredded the secondary and made clutch throws that allowed the Falcons to have a 17-0 lead.
Even though the 49ers were chipping away and had pulled with a 17-14 score with less than a minute left in the second quarter, Ryan connected with tight Tony Gonzalez for a 10-yard score to extend the lead to 24-14 by halftime.
It seemed as if the Falcons had learned their lesson and was going to finally erase their reputation of coming up short in big games and advance to the Super Bowl for only the second time in their history.
But the 49ers had other ideas.
After a Frank Gore 5-yard score that pulled them within a 24-21 score, the 49ers defense made the adjustments when it was needed and went after Ryan like he stole something from them.
Ryan was overwhelmed by the pressure and made some costly errors down the stretch.
In two crucial drives where they were inside 49er territory, he threw an interception to Chris Culliver at the 49er’s 38 yard line and fumbled the ball inside the red zone that gave San Franscisco another chance to take the lead.
“Against a good team, you can’t have those types of mistakes,” Ryan said in a press conference after the heartbreaking loss.
The 49ers capitalized thanks to a Gore 9-yard go-ahead, game winning touchdown run that gave them a 28-24 lead with 11:46 remaining in the game.
Though the Falcons had plenty of chances to regain the lead, the 49ers defense, led by Patrick Willis stood tall when it counted to preserve the lead and defeat the Falcons on the road to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.
“I told (them) throughout the game, this is going to come down to us,” Dashon Goldson said to the San Franscisco Chronicle. “We started this. We started slow.”
Now with their hope and dreams dashed away, all the Falcons can do is evaluate this season and figure out how to win in big games because until they do, it will always be deja vu for them.