Is it autumn yet? The temperatures of the past few days have fluctuated between a crisp spring morning and a pre-heated oven evening. The San Francisco 49ers jumped timezones east to test the Atlanta Falcons’ upwardly improving trajectory. Broadcast on Fox, the Falcons took to offense first but had to punt the ball away three minutes into the first quarter. Alex Smith quarterbacked for the 49ers. Their first drive resulted in a touchdown courtesy of tight end Vernon Davis. San Francisco 7 and Atlanta 0. The 49ers special teams put on quite a show when Falcons punter Michael Koenen had to kick the ball away–the 49ers blocked the kick and safety Taylor Mays jumped to catch the ball and stayed just inside the back of the end zone when he landed. Mays then then he posed for a few members of the press at the back of the end zone and did a little dance. San Francisco 14 and Atlanta o. Watch me watching this play.
The 49ers’ performance on offense and defense jolted the Falcons awake. They started the second quarter with a TD connection between quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Harry Douglas. San Francisco 14 and Atlanta 7. What?! Not AGAIN! Just when Matt Ryan and his offense were beginning to bring in da noise and da funk, his pass intercepted by 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer. Luckily for fans of carnivorous ornithological creatures, the 49ers did not score. But, wait, what’s that I hear? Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton recovers a fumbled 49ers ball with a minute left to play in the second quarter (Alex Smith threw to a receiver who couldn’t make a one-handed catch; the ball bounced out of his hand and Lofton grabbed it). The Falcons couldn’t tie the game, but kicker Matt Bryant’s thirty-seven yard field goal brought the score gap down to just four points. San Francisco 14 and Atlanta 10.
Six minutes into the third quarter, with the 49ers making good field coverage, and Falcons safety William Moore intercepted Alex Smith. Matt Bryant went back onto the field for a thirty-one yard FG. San Francisco 14 and Atlanta 13. The fourth quarter was all over the place as Matt Ryan was intercepted with fewer than seventy seconds left in 49ers territory. Falcons wide receiver Roddy White managed to cause a fumble and Harvey Dahl recovered the ball, but they had to go down the field all over again. Harry Douglas made a beautiful catch a few plays later. Roddy White did as well thrice. With seven seconds left on the clock, Matt Bryant went in to attempt a forty-three yard FG. It was good! Atlanta 16 and San Francisco 14. Final score.
My heart was pounding the entire last five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Observations & Miscellania:
1. Dick Stockton, Charles Davis, and Jim Mora provided commentary.
3. The Falcons wore black jerseys and red helmets. The 49ers wore white jerseys and gold helmets; they’ve also incorporated hot pink into their uniform (arm bands, towels, gloves, shoes).
4. After Harry Douglas made the TD catch in the top of the second quarter, he and a teammate leaped into the air and high-fived each other with the sides of their bodies.
5. Middle of the second quarter: did the ball hit one of the officials in the face after Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez got the first down? I’m certain I saw the official who made the arm-in-a-circle-motion get a ball in the face.
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