"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."
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