National Football League games usually come down to a play or two so it was no surprise when the NFC Championship game came down to a few plays at the end to see who would win the game. Actually, there may have been one play in particular that doomed the Atlanta Falcons and it happened in the fourth quarter with the Falcons driving for the possible game winning score.
On third and two with just under 4:30 to play in the game, Matt Ryan passes to a wide open Harry Douglas for a controversial catch for a 22-yard gain and a first down. While running free in the secondary on the pass, Douglas slipped and made an awkward juggling catch, which was reviewed and upheld by the officials. Looking back on that play it’s fair to wonder if Douglas doesn’t slip, does he walk into the end zone and give the Falcons a three point lead with just over four minutes to play? He was wide open and there wasn’t a San Francisco 49ers defender anywhere near him so it is possible he scores on the play and puts the Falcons ahead for good and goes onto win the game.
There are always things to look back on in any game and ask ‘what if’ and the magnitude of this game shines the spotlight on Douglas’ slip. Of course there’s no way to know what would have happened in the final four minutes if Douglas had scored but remember that the 49ers kicking situation was questionable at best. David Akers had already missed a 38-yd field goal in addition to the 13 other field goals he missed on the season so there’s no telling how a potential game tying field goal would have turned out if the Niners needed to kick one.
The 49ers could have also gone on to score a touchdown in the final minutes to win the game but it’s anyone’s guess as to what might have happened had Douglas not slipped on the fateful play.
It’s really amazing on how every little play in an NFL game can impact the outcome and unfortunately for the Falcons, a slip might have cost them a chance at the Super Bowl.
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