Atlanta's 28-24 loss in the NFC Championship Game opened with the Falcons mounting a 17-0 first-half lead. That's when 49ers safety Dashon Goldson got in the ear of his defensive teammates, preaching for them to pull San Francisco out of the fire.
"I told (them) throughout the game, this is going to come down to us," Goldson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We started this. We started slow."
The 49ers' defense made up for it by shutting out the Falcons in the second half. Atlanta's star receivers, Julio Jones and Roddy White, were electric out of the gate but vanished in a Matt Ryan-led offense that turned over the ball twice during the final 30 minutes.
"They were just throwing and catching it better than we were defending it (in the first half)," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "I liked a lot of the calls we were in. They just were beating us. In the second half, we played a little bit better. We did one or two things a little bit different, but nothing major. It was just our guys stepping up and playing better."
The Falcons threw everything they could at the 49ers, and it nearly catapulted them onto the game's biggest stage. San Francisco's ability to rally from a huge deficit says a lot about the NFC's Super Bowl representative. Now, it's on to New Orleans.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.