From Comcast SportsNetATLANTA (AP) -- The only thing missing from Tony Gonzalez's impressive resume is a Super Bowl championship.One of the greatest tight ends in NFL history will have to settle for that omission after the Atlanta Falcons wasted another postseason lead.Matt Ryan passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns, but the Falcons were shut out in the second half of their 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Sunday."I'm not going to cry about it," Gonzalez said after the conclusion of his 16th season. "I walk away with the satisfaction I left everything, absolutely everything, every time I was on the field."I wish it would have culminated with the Super Bowl, but it didn't."The 36-year-old Gonzalez still has a 13th Pro Bowl to play in, but after spending the season saying he was 95 percent certain he'll retire, he sounded like he's now at 100 percent.The Falcons led 17-0 in the first half and 24-21 entering the fourth quarter. Frank Gore's second touchdown run midway through the final quarter gave San Francisco its first lead.Ryan and the Falcons were left 10 yards short of their chance for a second straight last-minute comeback this postseason. The quarterback led the Falcons from the Atlanta 20 to the 49ers 10. On fourth-and-4 from the 10, Ryan's pass over the middle for Roddy White was deflected by linebacker NaVorro Bowman."On fourth down we tried to make something happen and we just couldn't get it done," Ryan said. "We fell a little short. I thought everybody battled real hard, we just didn't make enough plays to get it done."It was the second straight week the Falcons blew a big lead. They led Seattle 20-0 in the first half of last week's divisional playoff game, but needed a late field goal by Matt Bryant for a 30-28 win. The field goal was set up by Ryan's two clutch passes.This time, Ryan, Gonzalez and the Falcons came up short in the fourth quarter.Gonzalez had eight catches for 72 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown reception with 25 seconds remaining in the first half. The Falcons didn't score again.Gonzalez wasn't the only Atlanta player wondering if he would come so close to the Super Bowl. Center Todd McClure, 35, and defensive end John Abraham, 34, each said he plans to play at least one more season. Even so, they were hit hard by the loss.McClure had to stop and gather his emotions during his postgame comments."It's really tough," McClure said. "You play your whole career to get in this situation and to come up short, it's tough."Asked how he felt, Abraham said, "It's a feeling I can't comprehend and can't even speak about because I thought I was going to go on."No one in this locker room has any vacation plans because we all thought we were going to the Super Bowl," Abraham said. "You don't get many chances in life to get something you want so bad and to have it taken away from you, it hurts. You never know when you'll get the chance again."The Falcons had one last chance, taking the ball on their 41 with 6 seconds remaining. Ryan completed a pass to Julio Jones at the 49ers 35 as the game ended.Ryan said the last pass was intended to be the start of a razzle-dazzle, last-gasp attempt at a big play."It was one of those where we toss it all around," Ryan said, adding the play wasn't executed properly.Ryan took a hit on his left shoulder during the game but said it was "good enough to go" late in the game.The Falcons (14-4) were denied their second Super Bowl appearance. They lost to Denver in the Super Bowl following the 1998 season.Despite all the passing yards, Ryan was hurt by two turnovers: an interception and a lost fumble on a shotgun snap.Penalties didn't help, either.The Falcons set NFL record lows for a 16-game schedule with 55 penalties for 415 yards, but coach Mike Smith bemoaned two personal fouls against his team. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas was called for unnecessary roughness in the first half.A more crucial call came late in the third quarter when defensive end Cliff Matthews hit 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's helmet. If not for the roughing the passer penalty, the Falcons would have had a third-down stop."I asked and it was explained to me as forcible contact to the quarterback on the third down that would have gotten us off the field," Smith said. "By rule if it's forcible, it is a penalty. If it's a grazing blow, it's not a penalty."
Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at CSN -- will take a look at the world of college basketball: Games to watch each week, players who might be on the Celtics' radar come draft time, what's going on locally . . . and, of course, power rankings (which will eventually morph into bracketology). Enjoy!
The shakeups continue! UCLA's defensive deficiencies gor the best of the Bruins at home against a newly minted Arizona lineup. West Virginia had a brutal week. Meanwhile, injury issues are piling up around the country: Creighton lost star point guard Maurice Watson for the season with a torn ACL, Indiana lost NBA prospect OG Anunoby for the season with a knee injury, and Oregon lost Dillon Brooks for the near future with a lower leg injury. The Top 15 has never looked so fragile. So let's look at each team's weaknesses this week, shall we?
1. Villanova (19-1) - The Wildcats have two major issues that could keep them from winning back-to-back titles for the first time since Florida did it in 2006-07: 1) They don't have an offensive post presence, and, more importantly, 2) they play seven-deep and are clearly getting tired at times during games.
2. Kansas (18-1) - It's no secret the Jayhawks' depth in the frontcourt is (gulp) underwhelming. When Landen Lucas goes to the bench, Kansas' defense goes into the toilet.
3. Gonzaga (19-0) - Hard to find a weakness with an undefeated team, but here's the problem: The 'Zags face extremely weak competition, and will continue to do so until March. Their lack of a big test for two-plus months will hurt.
4. Kentucky (17-2) - As athletic and offensively solid as Kentucky is, this is one of the worst defensive units that John Calipari has had. The 'Cats also play very uptempo, and will sure be tested in a half-court atmosphere come March.
5. Baylor (18-1) - The Bears continue to impress, but their guard play and consistency shooting the ball from deep could haunt them in March. They need guard play in the tourney.
6. Oregon (18-2) - Health. How long will Dillon Brooks be out? His injury early in the season hurt them, and it will certainly hurt again. He's their best player. No question.
7. Florida State (18-2) - Crazy that the 'Noles are in this position and not playing close to the defensive efficiency they're used to playing. That, combined with the fact that they're playing a crazy high pace, is going to make March games feel a lot tougher.
8. Arizona (18-2) - The Wildcats are riding high after upsetting UCLA in Westwood and getting Alonzo Trier back on the same night. Chemistry is now what 'Zona will need to develop.
9. UCLA (19-2) - The Bruins are super-talented. However, they sport the kiss-of-death weakness: High tempo combined with horrific defensive efficiency.
10. North Carolina (18-3) - UNC is like UCLA. Super-talented but with the habit of playing down to bad competition and also going through defensive lapses.
11. Creighton (18-2) - The Bluejays issue used to be defensive efficiency., which has been a problem all year. Now, however, it's the fact that Maurice Watson is done for the year. Killer injury.
12. Butler (17-3) - The Bulldogs are a solid team all around, but lately they haven't shown up at all in the first half of games and have struggled to get easy baskets. They may have peaked too early.
13. Notre Dame (17-3) - ND has very few issues and is a really solid squad. However, defense is a problem for the Irish at times, as they rank fairly low in defensive efficiency, and their very good offense has stalled in the half-court at times.
14. West Virginia (15-4) - The Mountaineers are boom or bust on defense. Their press forces the most turnovers in the country by far, but when their press is broken, they give up a ton of points. They are also incredibly high-tempo and frantic, which leads to a high-turnover offense as well.
15. Virginia (15-3) - The 'Cavs are very good on defense, but they lack a true go-to scorer and go through waves where it seems like scoring is incredibly difficult.
Rhode Island (12-6) - The Rams hold steady with a nice win over Duquesne, but what I said last week holds true: Win the conference tournament, or else . . .
Providence (13-8) - Nice road win over Georgetown followed by a loss at Villanova which is nothing to worry about. However, the Friars still need at least two signature wins, and those opportunities are passing them by.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
- Tuesday, January 24 -- Kansas at West Virginia; Virginia at Notre Dame
- Thursday, January 26 -- Xavier at Cincinnati
- Saturday, January 28 -- Kansas at Kentucky
- Sunday, January 29 -- Virginia at Villanova
POTENTIAL FUTURE CELTICS TO WATCH
Malik Monk - This kid is a bonafide scorer. He is averaging 21.7 points in under 30 minutes per game and he's doing it in a variety of ways. He can get to the rim, but he also shoots a lot of 3's and a lot of mid-range jumpers. Sounds like a recipe for a high-volume, low-efficiency scorer, right? But get this: Monk is shooting 50.7 percemt from the field and 41.4 from 3-pt range. That's pretty nuts considering his shot selection.
Lauri Markkanen - This kid is about to skyrocket up draft boards. He will absolutely pass Jonathan Isaac and will be the top big man in the 2017 draft. He's got some Kevin Love to his game with more size. The 7-footer is averaging 17 and 7, while shooting a crazy 52.4/50.0/83.5 split. Stud.
Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.
Intentionally or otherwise, the guy who allegedly pulled the fire alarm at the Steelers’ hotel Sunday morning may have also provided the average Bud Light-loving Bostonian a new motto.
“I’m drunk. I’m stupid. I’m a Pats fan,” Dennis Harrison told police after he was arrested, according to the Boston Globe.
Citing the State Police report, the Globe wrote Monday that Harrison was talked into pulling the alarm while at a party in Revere, with a friend driving the 25-year-old to the Boston Hilton Logan Airport hotel Sunday morning.
Harrison reportedly walked up to the second floor and pulled the fire alarm before returning to the car, but his friend and the keys were gone. He was then picked up by police while walking away from the hotel.
According to the Globe, Harrison pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and setting off a false fire alarm Monday and was released on personal recognizance.