ATLANTA — For 16 years, it was the situation where the ball would almost always come to the sure-handed tight end. And on the last meaningful play of his storied NFL career, it didn’t.
With the Falcons facing a fourth-and-4 from the 49ers’ 10 with just over a minute left, everyone had to be thinking the pass would be heading toward Tony Gonzalez. But the 49ers had him covered with cornerback Tarell Brown and safety Trenton Robinson over the top and although Ryan looked Gonzalez’s way, the pass went in the direction of Roddy White. NaVorro Bowman broke it up, a play that essentially gave the 49ers the 28-24 victory and the trip to the Super Bowl.
“The defense kind of fooled us there,” Gonzalez said. “It looked like I wasn’t going to be open (because of the safety over the top), but then it came open.”
For Gonzalez, who has said that he is 95 percent certain he will retire, he said it was an emotional end to a season and most likely a Hall of Fame career.
“That’s probably the last time I wear that uniform, or football pads and cleats,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t want to take it off, to tell you the truth.”
Postgame fight leaves man injured
A man was injured in a fight outside the Georgia Dome and taken to nearby Grady Hospital following the NFC championship game.
Georgia Dome spokesman Jason Kirksey emailed a statement to The Associated Press Sunday an altercation occurred in a parking lot outside the dome at 6:40 p.m.
The 35-year-old’s name was not released. The statement says he is in stable condition and that it is unclear “if anyone involved in the altercation attended the game.” Georgia Dome and Atlanta police “are investigating the incident.”
WSB-TV reported a Falcons fan and a 49ers fan argued after game and the Atlanta fan punched San Francisco fan, who pulled out a knife. They reported one of the two men was stabbed in the neck.