ATLANTA — The Falcons blew another postseason lead, and this time they were unable to pull out a win in Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez’s last chance to reach the Super Bowl.
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 his 16th NFL 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 after the season, he sounded like he’s now at 100 percent.
Gonzalez had eight catches for 72 yards including a 10-yard touchdown reception with 25 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Falcons didn’t score again.
Gonzalez wasn’t the only Atlanta player wondering if he would come so close to the Super Bowl. Center Todd McClure, 35, an defensive end John Abraham, 34, each said he plans to play at least one more season.
Even so, they were hit hard by the loss.
McClure had to stop and gather his emotions during his postgame comments.
“It’s really tough,” McClure said. “You play your whole career to get in this situation and to come up short, it’s tough.”
Asked how he felt, Abraham said “It’s a feeling I can’t comprehend and can’t even speak about because I thought I was going to go on.”
“No one in this locker room has any vacation plans because we all thought we were going to the Super Bowl,” Abraham said. “You don’t get many chances in life to get something you want so bad and to have it taken away from you, it hurts. You never know when you’ll get the chance again.”
The Falcons had one last chance, taking the ball on their 41 with 6 seconds remaining.
Ryan completed a pass to Julio Jones at the 49ers 35 as the game ended.
The Falcons (14-4) were denied their second Super Bowl appearance. They lost to Denver in the Super Bowl after the 1998 season.