Atlanta Falcons squander big lead; fall to 49ers

The Atlanta Falcons season, filled with so much promise and hope after last week’s thrilling win, came to an end with a disappointing 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. This is the second year in a row that the Falcons captured the number one seed but failed to reach the Super Bowl. The good news, however, is that this team is still very young and has gotten over the hump of winning a playoff game. I expect the Falcons to be in the championship mix for years to come.

Today’s game could not have started better for the Falcons; who jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. Quarterback Matt

The San Francosco 49ers  celebrate their first NFC Championship since 1995.

The San Francisco 49ers celebrate their first NFC Championship since 1995.

Ryan was firing on all cylinders with two touchdown passes to receiver Julio Jones in the first half. The 49ers, led by rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick, fought back and scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. The Falcons seemed to remain in control towards the end of the half and led 24-14 at halftime.

The second half was probably the worst half of football that the Falcons have played all year. Turnovers, penalties, and poor tackling doomed the Falcons as Frank Gore bulldozed for two San Francisco touchdowns. The 49ers took a 28-24 lead in the fourth quarter and had seized all of the momentum that the Falcons had in the first half. Atlanta, however, still had life with two minutes left in the game. A controversial call gave the Falcons a first down on the 49ers 20 yardline. On third and six, 49ers lineback Navarro Bowman leveled Matt Ryan and appeared to injure Ryan’s shoulder in the process. This showed on fourth down when Ryan threw a lame duck pass over the middle that fell incomplete. The Falcons had one more chance with six seconds left in the game, but Matt Ryan could not shake the shoulder injury and throw the ball deep. The game ended and the 49ers started celebrating their first NFC Championship since 1995. They will face the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl 47.

Stats:

Matt Ryan: 30/42; 396 yards; three touchdowns

Michael Turner: eight rushes; 30 yards

Julio Jones: 11 receptions; 182 yards; two touchdowns

Colin Kaepernick: 16/21; 233 yards; one touchdown

Frank Gore: 21 rushes; 90 yards; two touchdowns

Vernon Davis: five receptions; 106 yards; one touchdown