User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Bowman, 49ers shut down Falcons in 2nd half

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

ATLANTA (AP) - Everything was going wrong for the San Francisco 49ers and their proud defense.

Advertisement
Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons gouged them so often in the early stages of the NFC title game that the 49ers seemed too stunned to respond.

``It was us, it wasn't them at all,'' San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. ``We weren't communicating, playing the way we want to play. We regrouped in the second half and played our game.''

They certainly did.

Bowman, Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks combined to stop the Falcons 10 yards short of the end zone in the closing minutes of a 28-24 victory Sunday that sent San Francisco to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.

The 49ers will play Baltimore for the NFL title in New Orleans on Feb. 3. The Ravens beat the New England Patriots 28-13 in Sunday's AFC title game.

After Bowman essentially sealed the game by breaking up a fourth-down pass from Matt Ryan to Roddy White with 1:09 remaining, the Falcons had time to run just one more desperate play before the buzzer sounded.

It was yet another big play for a defense that clamped down on Ryan and Atlanta's high-powered passing attack over the final 30 minutes.

``They've got some horses, man,'' San Francisco defensive tackle Justin Smith said. ``They made it tough on us. We made some adjustments at half, played a little bit better, but our offense picked up a lot of slack today, kept us rolling, kept us in it and we were able to win it.''

The Falcons got off to a dominant start as Ryan and Julio Jones combined for a pair of touchdowns that helped make it 17-0 early in the second quarter and 24-14 at halftime.

But midway through the third, cornerback Chris Culliver intercepted a pass at the San Francisco 38 that allowed the defense to build confidence.

Though the Niners' offense failed to score off the turnover when David Akers missed a 38-yard field goal attempt, defensive end Aldon Smith followed on the next defensive series by recovering Ryan's fumble on a botched shotgun snap.

The offense again failed to score when receiver Michael Crabtree lost a fumble at the Atlanta 1, but after forcing the Falcons to an ensuing three-and-out, the defense was delighted to see Frank Gore run for a 9-yard touchdown and a 28-24 lead.

``We believe in our offense,'' Willis said. ``We understand that if we get stops, they're going to score points.''

The turn of events contrasted sharply from the early stages of the game when the 49ers appeared to have no answer for Ryan, White, Jones and Tony Gonzalez.

By the first minute of the second quarter, Jones had scored two TDs, beating cornerback Tarell Brown both times. On the first score, it seemed that Brown mistakenly released Jones on a deep route, and the blown coverage allowed Jones to outrun free safety Dashon Goldson for a 46-yard score.

After Falcons kicker Matt Bryant's 35-yard field goal made it 10-0 on Atlanta's second possession, Ryan and Jones hooked up on a 20-yard TD. Jones caught the ball over his right shoulder in the left back corner of the end zone and deftly kept both feet inbounds to make it 17-0.

Jones and White combined for 226 yards receiving on 13 catches in the first half, many of them coming on underneath crossing routes as the two wideouts made several athletic plays.

In the second half, however, Jones and White combined for six catches and 62 yards.

Good fortune helped the Niners rally, too.

On the Falcons' final drive, cornerback Carlos Rogers fell down while covering slot receiver Harry Douglas on a deep pass near the right sideline, but San Francisco caught a big break when Douglas stumbled on his way to making a disputed 22-yard catch at the Niners 28.

Had he stayed on his feet, Douglas could have scored a touchdown on Atlanta's final drive.

``It made it tough on them,'' Rogers said. ``Things like that happen. No excuses. We made the plays and were able to get off the field.''

Such was the case throughout the regular season as the Niners ranked among the top four in scoring average, third-down efficiency, yards rushing and yards passing.

They just needed to reclaim their identity and prove they had moved past the disappointment of last year's NFC title game loss to the New York Giants.

``I don't really think it's destiny or anything like that written on the walls,'' Smith said. ``It's the team that works the hardest, prepares the hardest and has the best players and coaching staff. You pour all that in together and it comes out pretty good at the end.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Mejia: NFC Preseason Wrap
Mejia: AFC Preseason Wrap
Lawrence: Trends to Watch - September
Lawrence: 2014 NFC Season Preview
Marshall: Ravens rising up
Lawrence: 2014 AFC Season Preview
ASA: NFC North Notebook
ASA: NFC South Notebook
Marshall: Philadelphia Hype
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
4-0 L4, 10-2 L12, 13-4 This Year
8-1 Last 9 NFL Run
7-1 L8 Guarantees, +950 This Year
6-0 Guaranteed Play Streak
6-1 L7 G-Plays, 11-5 L16 Picks
5-2 Guaranteed Play Record
NFL Pro Football Expert Sports Picks- Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks
2014 NFL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 950
James Manos + 850
Bruce Marshall + 630
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last Week  
   
   
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
James Manos 76 %
Scott Pritchard 70 %
ASA 67 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 651
Scott Pritchard + 490
The Gold Sheet + 281
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 873
Hank Goldberg + 600
ASA + 200
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
John Fisher + 270
Antony Dinero + 228
ASA + 200
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!