ATLANTA (AP) — The Falcons blew another postseason lead, and this time Matt Ryan couldn’t help Atlanta recover in a 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Sunday.
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 quarter gave San Francisco its first lead.
Ryan 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.
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.
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.
The Falcons (14-4) were denied their second Super Bowl appearance.
Ryan completed 30 of 42 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns, but was hurt by two turnovers — an interception and a lost fumble on a shotgun snap.
Ryan’s pass for Roddy White was intercepted by cornerback Chris Culliver early in the third quarter. The 49ers couldn’t take advantage of the game’s first turnover when David Akers’ try for a 38-yard field goal hit the left upright.
Later in the third quarter, Ryan fumbled a shotgun snap. Again, the 49ers were denied when receiver Michael Crabtree fumbled at the goal line when stripped by Dunta Robinson. William Moore helped on the hit and Stephen Nicholas was credited with the recovery.
Julio Jones was Ryan’s top target, catching 11 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Michael Turner set out much of the second half with an ankle injury and was limited to eight carries for 30 yards.