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Ryan, Falcons falter as NFC's No. 1 seed

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Matt Ryan is still looking for his first playoff win after three NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

Tony Gonzalez's drought has lasted much longer. The tight end struggled for perspective on Saturday night after a crushing end to his best chance for his first postseason win.

Gonzalez, a 14-year veteran who spent most of his career in Kansas City, has more catches than any tight end in NFL history, but he's now 0-4 in the postseason.

Gonzalez wouldn't confirm plans to return for another season after Saturday night's 48-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He could confirm the disappointment of a playoff loss was too familiar.

"Just kind of here we go again," Gonzalez said. "A great, great, great season. Unbelievable. A lot of fun, a lot of success for this team and this city. A lot of people shared in it and it's fun. A fun ride. It just ended abruptly. We didn't expect it to end this way, and definitely not in the style that it did."

Ryan is 20-2 as a starter at the Georgia Dome in his three seasons. The Falcons believed that record of home success, coupled with the team's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs, would be their ticket to playoff success.

Instead, Ryan and the top-seeded Falcons fell flat in the lopsided loss, leaving the third-year quarterback 0-2 in playoff games with six turnovers.

Ryan threw two interceptions, including one that was returned 70 yards for a touchdown by Tramon Williams, and also lost a fumble. He finished with 186 yards.

"We moved the ball pretty effectively but we just didn't capitalize," Ryan said. "We didn't get points when we needed to get points. It's disappointing."

The Falcons also had a fourth-quarter fumble by receiver Michael Jenkins.

For Ryan, the postseason disappointment was painfully familiar. As a rookie in 2008, Ryan had three turnovers, including a fumble returned for a touchdown, and was sacked for a safety in Atlanta's 30-24 wild-card playoff loss at Arizona.

The Falcons have not won a playoff game since 2004, when they advanced to the NFC championship game with Michael Vick at quarterback and Jim Mora Jr. as the coach.

The Falcons had good reason for optimism in this postseason after winning the NFC's No. 1 seed for the first time since 1980. But the Falcons, who were off last week, couldn't continue momentum built in their 13-3 regular season.

Atlanta's only losses in the regular season were in overtime at Pittsburgh, by two touchdowns at Philadelphia, and by three points to New Orleans on Dec. 27.

The Falcons fell flat after taking an early lead against the Packers on Saturday night. A fumble forced by linebacker Stephen Nicholas gave Atlanta possession at the Green Bay 48 in the first quarter, and Ryan led a touchdown drive that ended with Michael Turner's 12-yard run.

Eric Weems gave Atlanta a 14-7 lead with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the longest scoring play in NFL postseason history, according to STATS LLC.

Then the Packers scored 35 unanswered points, and Ryan could not lead a comeback.

Perhaps most costly was Ryan's interception returned 70 yards for a touchdown by Tramon Williams on the final play of the first half.

"It just was not a very good decision on my part," Ryan said. "In that situation, understanding we're in field goal range at that point, I just need to throw the ball away."

Gonzalez limped off the field after injuring his right ankle with 2:03 remaining in the third quarter. He returned later in the game and said the injury was not serious.

By the end of the game, Green Bay fans had taken over the Georgia Dome, moving down to the front rows of the otherwise empty building.

Ryan said the loss shouldn't keep the Falcons from returning as a top team in the conference next season.

"We did a lot of things well this year and we've got a chance to build on some of the things we did this year," Ryan said. "We've got a lot of people coming back, a lot of talent and we certainly expect to be right back in this position next year and get a different outcome."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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