Gonzalez's career ends with another Falcons loss

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm •  Published: December 29, 2013
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Ryan's day ended with nine sacks, a single-game career high. Carolina's Greg Hardy was deployed in several different roles along the line and finished with four sacks to help the Panthers set a single-game record for sacks.

The Falcons lost after leading 7-0 on Jason Snelling's 9-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, 10-0 on Matt Bryant's 42-yard field goal in the second and 17-14 on Roddy White's 39-yard TD reception in the third.

It seemed appropriate that Ryan's last completion went to Gonzalez for a 9-yard gain with 5 seconds left. Atlanta's season ended on the next play, an overthrown ball to White.

Gonzalez maintained his season-long stance that he feels no disappointment for putting off retirement to help the Falcons reach the Super Bowl.

They had come up just 10 yards short in the NFC title game last season and seemed to have the pieces in place to make another run.

But an abundance of injuries, a weak offensive line and a defense prone to big plays ruined Atlanta's chances, thus ending Gonzalez's career with just one playoff victory, a 30-28 thriller last January against Seattle.

"Obviously it just wasn't in my cards, and I'm OK with that, honestly," Gonzalez said. "Don't ever look at me and say, 'Well, he never won the big game.' I hope there's no glitch on my record because of that, and if you think that way, I don't know what you're talking about. I really don't because this is the ultimate team sport."

White was among those bitterly disappointed that Gonzalez went out with a loss after the Falcons went 45-19 over the previous four years.

"I just feel bad for Tony because we wanted to send him out with a win," White said. "But we just haven't found any ways to win this year. The fourth quarter hasn't been ours all year."

NOTES: Ryan moved past Steve Bartkowski to become the Falcons' career-leading passer with 23,472 yards. ... CB Asante Samuel was active but did not play. With Atlanta committing to playing rookies Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and fourth-year cornerback Robert McClain late in the season, Samuel took only one snap over the last four games. ... LB Sean Weatherspoon (knee) missed his second straight game and was sidelined for nine games this year.

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AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow George Henry at www.twitter.com/georgehenryAP

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