The Union Recorder

Local Sports

January 21, 2013

Falcons waste Gonzalez's last chance at Super Bowl

ATLANTA — The only thing missing from Tony Gonzalez's impressive resume is a Super Bowl championship.

One of the greatest tight ends in NFL history will have to settle for that omission after the Atlanta Falcons wasted another postseason lead.

Matt Ryan passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns, but the Falcons were shut out in the second half of their 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Sunday.

"I'm not going to cry about it," Gonzalez said after the conclusion of his 16th season. "I walk away with the satisfaction I left everything, absolutely everything, every time I was on the field.

"I wish it would have culminated with the Super Bowl, but it didn't."

The 36-year-old Gonzalez still has a 13th Pro Bowl to play in, but after spending the season saying he was 95 percent certain he'll retire, he sounded like he's now at 100 percent.

The Falcons led 17-0 in the first half and 24-21 entering the fourth quarter. Frank Gore's second touchdown run midway through the final quarter gave San Francisco its first lead.

Ryan and the Falcons were left 10 yards short of their chance for a second straight last-minute comeback this postseason. The quarterback led the Falcons from the Atlanta 20 to the 49ers 10. On fourth-and-4 from the 10, Ryan's pass over the middle for Roddy White was deflected by linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

"On fourth down we tried to make something happen and we just couldn't get it done," Ryan said. "We fell a little short. I thought everybody battled real hard, we just didn't make enough plays to get it done."

It was the second straight week the Falcons blew a big lead. They led Seattle 20-0 in the first half of last week's divisional playoff game, but needed a late field goal by Matt Bryant for a 30-28 win. The field goal was set up by Ryan's two clutch passes.

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