The Atlanta Falcons fell just short of advancing to their second Super Bowl in franchise history (the first being their Super Bowl XXXIII loss to the Denver Broncos). The San Francisco 49ers went into the Georgia Dome on Sunday afternoon, emerging with a 28-24 victory.
The Falcons sprinted out to a 17-0 first-half lead on the shoulders of Matt Ryan and his receiving trio of Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Atlanta's inability to sustain a consistent rushing attack, coupled with two costly turnovers, ultimately led to San Francisco's comeback.
Speaking of Ryan and his shoulder, the quarterback fell awkwardly in the fourth quarter after being knocked down by San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks.
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Ryan has a sprained AC joint and that no surgery is needed, though the Falcons are playing the waiting game for final word on the injury.
Update on Matt Ryan: Sprained AC joint in left shoulder. No surgery needed. Falcons now waiting to see if he still needs an MRI Monday.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 21, 2013
Coming off his first playoff victory last week against the Seattle Seahawks, Ryan was able to capitalize on the momentum early—throwing for a franchise postseason record of 396 yards and three touchdowns.
Though his performance ultimately came up short and the Falcons will now be watching the rest of the playoffs from home, Ryan's shoulder injury will be hot news over the next couple of days.
According to a league source via Zach Klein of WSB-TV in Atlanta, it is likely that Ryan wouldn't have been available for the Super Bowl had the Falcons knocked off the 49ers on Sunday.
NFL Source: "Even if #Falcons won, I seriously doubt Matt Ryan could have played in Super Bowl" (injured left shoulder)— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) January 21, 2013
While it isn't of concern after the loss, it looks as though Luke McCown would have been under center for Atlanta in two weeks after not taking a snap all year for the Falcons.
If the Falcons can evade serious injury with Ryan, however, consider that a win for this franchise as it looks toward building off of their successful 2012 season.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter