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Like I did so many Christmas mornings growing up, I couldn't wait to start my day today. With my body not quite accustomed to Arizona time, I awoke shortly before 5 a.m. and went downstairs to the team meal room. Nary a soul was there, save for hotel employees stocking the tables with fruit, bagels and Gatorade. I grabbed a couple of G2s to hydrate, and headed back upstairs to prep for today's game.

I was listless, anxious. Wondering if Santa paid heed to my painstakingly conceived list I submitted over a month earlier.

I'm looking forward to whatever playoff presents today will yield, but let me say this... I'm not content to just be here.

Many have said we're playing with house money, and what happens today is gravy. I would have said that before Matt Ryan connected with Michael Jenkins with just a handful of ticks on the clock to set up a now legendary win over the Bears. But something happened that crisp autumn day in Atlanta that made things different.

We were contenders.

With Michael Turner racking up hash marks the way Brett Favre commandeers headlines and our Abe-led defense bending but rarely breaking, we needed only our rookie signal-caller to turn a corner to be legitimate in not just the NFC, but the entire NFL. On October 12, that happened. Some would argue, convincingly, that the light went on for Ryan on his first NFL pass: a 62-yard connection to the aforementioned Jenkins.

But the leadership, poise and steely nerve that earned him the nickname "Matty Ice" years earlier manifested itself in that victory over the Bears. You see, Matt KNEW he was going to win that game for his team, and he let his teammates know it. The 26-yard pass to Jenkins had a zero margin of error. That's a margin the 23-year-old from Philly relishes.

So the Falcons aren't merely content with being here. This team, burnished in the image of the Offensive Rookie of the Year, won't settle for anything less than a trip to Charlotte or New York next week.

Are you ready for some Falcons football?


That was awesome, if your not fired up after reading that....

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