Had the Atlanta Falcons scored a touchdown on their final drive Sunday, we'd likely be swimming in tales of their glory.
Atlanta's last gasp came on quarterback Matt Ryan's fourth-down pass attempt from the San Francisco 16-yard line. With 1:13 on the clock, Ryan whipped an incomplete pass to Falcons receiver Roddy White, who didn't stand a chance against 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who picked up on the play before it happened.
"I knew the ball was coming there," Bowman later told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. "He (White) hadn't lined up at No. 3 the whole game, at the inside receiver. Any time they do that, that's what we pride ourselves in -- guarding guys like that."
It was an astute moment by Bowman, who obviously benefited from film study. In the middle of utter chaos on the field, a less-experienced player might have missed the oddity of White lining up somewhere new in the formation. It stuck out to Bowman, and his ability to crack the code helped the 49ers hold off the Falcons one last time.
A voyage to New Orleans is the result.