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Atlanta Falcons, And Tight End Tony Gonzalez, Look To Erase Recent Playoff Failures Against Russell Wilson-Led Seattle Seahawks


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ATLANTA — It was different when the Atlanta Falcons were bounced so early from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. They had a core of young talent. They had a bright future. They could still look forward to next year.

That’s not true any more for Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. Next year means nothing to him.

“This could be it for me,” said the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer. “There is no tomorrow for me and there is no saying, ‘You know what? We’ll get them next year.’ It’s about going out there and finishing on the right note.”

There is no other choice, really, for the top-seeded Falcons (13-3), who open the playoffs on Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome with a divisional-round game against the Seattle Seahawks

(12-5). They can’t be a disappointing one-and-done like they were in each of the last two postseasons. They’ve been building towards this moment for years.

For Gonzalez, a seemingly ageless wonder, he’s actually been building toward it for 16 seasons, including the last four with Atlanta. He reiterated last week that he’s “95%” sure that this will be his final NFL season.

The last thing he wants to do is retire without ever having experienced a postseason win.

“It’s huge. I’m not going to lie to you,” Gonzalez said. “I really want to win this game. Not just for me, honestly, it’s for the guys on this team how hard we’ve worked. Like I said, this is the best team I’ve ever been a part of. I really feel like I said at the beginning of the season, we have a real good shot if we go out there and play our game.”

The Falcons thought that way two years ago, too, when in their third season with coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan, they took the NFL by storm with a 13-3 record. But in their opening playoff game in front of a raucous home crowd, they were embarrassed by the eventual champion Green Bay Packers, 48-21.

One year later, they weren’t nearly as good but they felt they were at least dangerous as they came to New York for a wild-card playoff game with a 10-6 record. But they again left quickly after being humiliated by the eventual champion, this time the Giants, 24-2.

Those playoff failures have tarnished the promise of a team that’s loaded with talent, a franchise that may have to rethink its entire plan if they are bounced out early again. The fans feel it, too. Gonzalez — who led the Falcons with 93 catches (for 930 yards and eight touchdowns) — said he hears it from people on the street, how important one win could be for a city that wants desperately to believe.

“I’ve talked about it all year,” Gonzalez said. “Nobody is going to get on our band wagon, no one is going to commit to our band wagon, because we haven’t won a playoff game. We understand that. So we have to go out there and take care of business and hopefully come out on top.”

Doing that won’t be easy against a red-hot Seahawks team that has won six straight games, including a 24-14 win at Washington last Sunday in the wild-card round. They have the NFL’s fourth-best defense — though they’ll be missing defensive end Chris Cleamons (11½ sacks) who tore his ACL last week — and a dual-threat in Russell Wilson, a rookie quarterback who has theSeahawks scoring 38.8 points per game over the last four weeks.

Smith said his team is loose. Ryan said the Falcons are “really excited.” Gonzalez hopes that’s true. He needs his teammates focused.

“There is no nervousness, at least I wouldn’t think as far as this being the unknown,” he said. “This isn’t unchartered territory for us. We’ve been here before.”

This time he just hopes the results will be different, because he’s almost out of time.


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The Falcons have a history of bouncing back and forth from achieving the impossible to collapsing in embarrassing defeat. I was really young when I watched the 98 Super Bowl, but I still remember that playoff game in Lambeau...I remember how everyone kept saying the Packers NEVER lost in Lambeau, how everyone said we'd lose big, how everyone was against us...I remember that snowy day in 2003, and Vick leading us to a 24-0 halftime lead, and eventually beating them 27-7 in their house.

We're due for something impossible.

It's impossible for the Falcons to win the Superbowl, right?

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My thinking.....

the 2 keys......Hold Lynch to less than 120 yds...less than 100 yds would really be good. Also...Play falcon football which means not losing the turnover battle.

Seattle blocks very well.....we have to shed blocks while maintaing each gap. It can be done. Lynch is tough but only 215 lbs...avg for a rb. Turner is more of a bruiser to tackle...imo. Seattle will love that in the 4th qtr when they are tiring.

Seattle corners are good but are they great? They are both 2 year vets with 1 game of playoff experience. Clemons is out so more time to throw for Ryan? Roddy and Gonzo with all that exp against there young secondary in a playoff hostile environment with them having to travel 2800 miles to face an angry rested team.

I watched the Seattle vs Washington game. I came away from that game not all that impressed with Seattle....especially considering a banged up rg 3. When GB came to town 2 years ago....I was worried. But folks....for some reason...I am not worried about this game. Maybe I'm in for a rude awakening....its happened before...but I see the Falcons winning....27-14.

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