Much had been made about the playoff drought the Falcons ended yesterday, the one that went back to the 2008 debut of quarterback Matt Ryan, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta.
But when Tony Gonzalez, whose own streak lasted more than a decade beyond that, finally broke his personal drought, things got a little damp.
“I was on the ground crying like a little baby,” Gonzalez said, via Michael Cunninngham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It was just so emotional — dips, highs and lows. It drains you. But I will take it. I will do it again next week if I have to.”
Gonzalez said it was the first time he ever cried after a game, with good reason.
In his 16-year NFL career, Sunday’s win over the Seahawks was just his sixth playoff game (three during his 12 years with the Chiefs, and the previous two with the Falcons).
After so many years of disappointment, he was afraid he was in for another when Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown gave the Seahawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left. He’s still holding onto his “95 percent” retirement pledge, knowing he might not come this close again.
“I was thinking on the sideline, ‘I guess this is it. This is how I’m going to go out,’” Gonzalez said. “That’s why I was so emotional. And then all of a sudden, it’s not [over]. You are back in it.”
Gonzalez had a big part in that, with the catch that preceded Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal.
“Probably the best catch I’ve ever had and probably one of the easiest,” Gonzalez said. “[Ryan] put it right in my chest. It’s the most important catch I’ve had in my life. I will never forget it. It was wonderful.”
After waiting so long for it, there’s no wonder the emotion overcame him.