The Falcons have been here before; most of these Falcons haven’t

CORRECTS THE LOCATION TO FLOWERY BRANCH, GA. - Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack looks at an NFL football banner as he arrives for a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Flowery Branch, Ga. The Falcons host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship football game on Sunday. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Alex Mack looks askance at the backdrop. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Alex Mack was first to the podium at Flowery Branch on Wednesday, and he paused to stare at the “NFC championship” backdrop. He faced 10 video cameras in a room off their field house the Atlanta Falcons don’t normally use for media sessions, the usual place being far too cozy for this swelling crowd.

At first you thought, “Well, of course Alex Mack would be surprised by this media throng — he came from the Cleveland Browns.” And the Falcons, as we know, graced the NFC title tilt only four Januarys ago. But then you thought again.

And then you realized: The Falcons as a franchise have been here before — three times! — but most of these Falcons have not. We now offer the complete list of active Birds who worked against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 20, 2013: Jonthan Babineaux, Julio Jones and three guys named Matt (Ryan, Bryant, Bosher).

One defensive lineman drafted when Rich McKay was general manager. One quarterback. One receiver. Two kickers. That’s it.

In today’s AJC, we offered a review of the Falcons’ rapid reset under Dan Quinn — of the 22 offensive/defensive players listed as starters for the Divisional Round game against Seattle, 12 arrived in the past two years — but the two years before that saw massive transition, too. The NFC championship game was the last as Falcons for Michael Turner, John Abraham, Dunta Robinson, Todd McClure, Tyson Clabo and Tony Gonzalez.

So yeah: This is new for all Falcons save five. The other semifinalists — Patriots, Steelers and Packers — are accustomed to being in the playoffs every year (or thereabouts). The Falcons made it four times in five years under Mike Smith and then they stopped.

And before you ask: No, I’m not trying to suggest the newness and bigness of the occasion will prove too much for the Falcons; I’m not the world’s biggest believer in Playoff Experience as a determinant. Game’s played on the field. The team that plays better will win. I believe the Falcons will play better than Green Bay.

Further Falcons:

How the soaring Falcons rebuilt on the fly.

ESPN: The 49ers will offer Kyle Shanahan their head coaching job.

In Aaron Rodgers, the Falcons will be facing the NFL’s Michael Jordan.

(Gulp) Here comes Aaron Rodgers. But the Falcons will still win.

If I’m the Falcons, I’m rooting for Dallas. (Yes, Dallas.)

The ascendant Falcons make short work of Seattle.

Don’t fret over these Falcons: They’re too good to flop.

Reviewing October’s epic Falcons-Seahawks game.

Reader Comments 0


They should take pride in getting into this game. That was definitely not a sure thing, and even laughable during certain parts of the season. But, here they are, so whatever happens enjoy it. 

They have a small chance of winning, but don't bet your ranch. What better passing conditions than inside the Dome? Granted - good for Ryan too. But Ryan is not Rodgers, and still has some ways to go. He could be, or he could get close perhaps. Time will tell. 

The problem the Falcons face is that even if they are 8 points ahead at the end of the fourth quarter, and the Packers are at their own 30 . . . their own 20? . . .  and there are 15 or 20 seconds on the clock . . . .10 seconds? . . . and the Packers have one or two time outs left . . . the game is still not over. With Rodgers and the Packers playing like they have been playing, the game will be over only if the Packers are behind by more than 8, and there is 0:00 showing on the clock. That is when the game will be over. 


They're in it! I didn't believe they would be, but here they are. Win or lose they got further than I believed they were capable of getting. It's a win, win situation just getting this far.


I predict PAIN!!!!!...RISE UP!!!!


@DawgNole @TOJacket Really professor?...pain for whom?, and you try your best but fail to make me look less than yourself and you're so damn stupid you have to ask whoooo???....who loves the Falcons and never publicly berates  them on a regular basis....god you're stupid.



There you go, calling God stupid again.

I didn't ask "whoooo"; I asked for whom. So stop dodging questions again--pain for whom?

Making you look less than me requires minimal effort at best, so I don't have to try.


While forgettable, Gonzalez did come out of retirement for the 2013 season, so the 2012 NFC Championship was not his last game as a Falcon.


First! Go Falcons! Can't wait for this game.