Falcons' Gonzalez closing in on long-awaited Super Bowl

Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:20pm EST
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - Two years ago, a dejected Tony Gonzalez stood on the sidelines as yet another playoff game ended in defeat for the veteran tight end and his Atlanta Falcons.

The Green Bay Packers had come into the Georgia Dome and routed the Falcons 48-21, and Gonzalez, a record setter in most categories a tight end is measured by, was still looking for his first career playoff win.

The Californian was injured in the third quarter and while he got taped up and returned to the bench, the Falcons' chances fizzled out. As Gonzalez limped off the field, his body language led to inevitable speculation over his NFL future.

Gonzalez, whose career playoff record dropped to 0-5 after last year's first-round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants, said in his gloomy interview after the Packers game that retirement was a possibility.

But it proved too soon for the top level college basketball and football player to give up on his goal of winning, if not a Super Bowl, a playoff game.

Last Sunday, on that same sideline, Gonzalez's emotions told another story as he fell to the ground in tears following Matt Bryant's 49-yard field goal in the final seconds that earned Atlanta a dramatic win over Seattle.

"I was on the ground, sobbing like a baby," said Gonzalez.

After 16 seasons in the NFL, the future Hall of Famer finally had a playoff victory, putting him one win away from his first appearance in the Super Bowl in what he says is likely to be his final season.   Continued...

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrates as he leaves the field after the Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks in their NFL NFC Divisional playoff football game in Atlanta, Georgia January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Tami Chappell