Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez hungry to break playoff losing streak

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

By CARROLL ROGERS

FLOWERY BRANCH — A little Greek mythology is not lost on Tony Gonzalez, future Hall of Fame tight end for the Falcons and philosopher of sorts.

His story has played out like a modern-day Tantalus, the son of both Greek god and mortal, who faces the eternal punishment of never being able to reach either the fruit in the low-hanging tree above him or the water that keeps receding below him.

Gonzalez, who leads all NFL tight ends in history in every major offensive category (yards, receptions, touchdowns), has never tasted victory in five trips to the playoffs, including twice with the Falcons. He came back this season for one more try at it. He and the Falcons will face Minnesota, Seattle or Washington on Jan. 13 at the Georgia Dome.

Waiting out the bye week was no great mental hurdle for the 36-year-old who put off retirement for this chance. The organic foodie, author, fitness guru and thinker is used to trying to make sense of his path, rolling it all over in his head again and again.

“I think about it all the time,” Gonzalez said. “You always think about what you’ve gone through in the past and the tough heart-breaking losses that I’ve had in the playoffs. And hopefully it is for a reason because it makes (this year) so much sweeter.”

In the 1997 season, Gonzalez was a rookie for the Kansas City Chiefs, who like these Falcons were 13-3, drew a first-round bye and were dubbed a Super Bowl favorite. The Chiefs lost to John Elway and the Broncos 14-10 in the divisional playoffs that season, and Elway went on to snap his streak of three Super Bowl losses by defeating the Packers at age 37.

Now Gonzalez, who turns 37 in February, is down to what he has said he’s 95 percent sure is his last chance. Four other first-round losses followed that first loss in 1997 — with the Chiefs in 2003 and 2006 and the Falcons in 2010 and 2011.

“If I had won it back then, it wouldn’t have been as sweet as if I won it this year, just because I know what it takes,” he said. “And I know going through a whole career, 16 years and not even having a playoff win, or let alone a Super Bowl, it’s tough.”

Gonzalez has become a poster child for a Falcons team trying to get out of a rut. They’ve lost three playoff games without a victory in the past five years, including the past two to the Packers and Giants.

“Yeah, we want to win one for Tony,” Falcons receiver Roddy White said Thursday, smiling as he leaned into the scrum of reporters in front of Gonzalez’s locker, donning a black stocking cap and gray hoodie under his practice jersey.

“You heard it right here,” Gonzalez responded. “And that type of attitude is what I like right there because honestly that’s the attitude I have for them.”

Gonzalez’s approach to his checkered playoff history is about as subtle as his yards after the catch. Turn, face, plow. And that might be just what the Falcons need. At a time when they could be feeling the pressure of the moment, they seem to be embracing it.

“I think you use anything you can take at this point,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “If that’s what gets guys going, by all means, let’s take advantage of that.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith showed the team a six-minute NFL Films video before practice Thursday with highlights of Super Bowl champions such as Ronnie Lott, Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis talking about their playoff experiences.

It hit home with Gonzalez.

“They talked about if you’re on that losing side and you look across that field and you see the smiles and the jubilation on the other team’s faces, you know they get to keep playing football and keep the dream alive to go get a Super Bowl, and you’re going home,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t want that feeling anymore. We’re too good, and we’ve worked too hard.

“And I’m sure a lot of NFL teams can say the same thing, but hopefully this will be our time to go out there and shine and make it all the way through.”

Gonzalez makes his home in Southern California. Playing another season has meant time away from his mother, his grandmother, his brothers and his oldest son.

“It can all be worth it,” Gonzalez said. “And we put ourselves in a position where hopefully it’s setting up to be well worth it.”

White was long gone by the time he said that, and so was the scrum. Five playoff games, albeit losses, have taught Gonzalez a few things, which is probably why he went on to say:

“It’s already been worth it, actually. We’ve had a great season.”

As badly as Gonzalez wants three more wins, there’s still something to be said for the chance.

ALL FOR NAUGHT

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is 0-5 in his career in the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of those five losses:

  • Season+Team+Result+Gonzalez stats
  • 1997+Chiefs+L, 14-10 to Broncos+3 catches, 26 yards, 1 TD
  • 2003+Chiefs+L, 38-31 to Colts+4 catches, 55 yards
  • 2006+Chiefs+ L, 23-8 to Colts+4 catches, 25 yards, 1 TD
  • 2010 Falcons+L, 48-21 to Packers+1 catch, 7 yards
  • 2011+Falcons+L, 24-2 to Giants+4 catches, 44 yards





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46 comments Add your comment

Mora less Petrino

January 4th, 2013
2:33 pm

Regardless of how this seasons ends for ATL, I hope Tony comes back. great player and seems to be a classy guy! An asset to the team and community.

Kurtis

January 4th, 2013
2:35 pm

Michael Turner is just hungry.

Michael Turner

January 4th, 2013
2:36 pm

Pipe down before I run you over, little man.

Kurtis

January 4th, 2013
2:40 pm

Yeah right. I’m 3 yards from you. You can’t run that far.

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Atlanta, break, Falcons, Gonzalez, hungry, losing, playoff, streak, Tony. Bookmark the permalink. ← Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers to meet Saturday [...]

Falcon James

January 4th, 2013
2:55 pm

Tony G is a professional in every aspect of the game. Winning the Super Bowl would be icing on the cake.

HAL

January 4th, 2013
2:56 pm

@ Kurtis– Now that was funny.

Priceless

January 4th, 2013
3:16 pm

More empty words from somebody other than Matty Melt or Smitty who has never won a playoff game.

Mike Franklin

January 4th, 2013
3:23 pm

Tony G came here to get a ring. He has played his a$$ off and deserves every carat.

He WILL get it.

warfalcon

January 4th, 2013
3:25 pm

We got your back T.G.,NO MORE BAD GAMES,LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whadda Ya Know?

January 4th, 2013
3:30 pm

The Falcons are in a perfect position to take it all. They’ve been through the losing playoff games, they’ve changed the offensive and defensive coordinators, added a few players and I believe all these will be the formula for them winning it all. We’re not as reliant on Turner any longer (thank God) and our offense can score on anyone. Falcons WILL prevail in the Mercedes Superdome in 2013!!! Which will make it all the more sweeter.

Priceless…just change your name to Clueless hater!

Starship 1

January 4th, 2013
3:54 pm

With playoff stats like the ones above: All Tony has to do is catch at least 5 or 6 catches, maybe 7 for 70 yards for the Falcons to win a playoff game.

dirty Bird

January 4th, 2013
4:13 pm

from a true Dirty Bird this is the year we will not be going home soon, because we will be going to the super dome to play for all the haters. and come back home with a win over Denver now how you like that

FalconsDiva

January 4th, 2013
4:21 pm

WIN IT FOR TONY!!!!

KC Falcon

January 4th, 2013
4:41 pm

There were no empty words for Gonzalez. Just as there haven’t been from Ryan or Smith. They all know the situation. They have been completely honest about it. Now time to just go win.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

January 4th, 2013
5:27 pm

@priceless; hater! Gtfo! Prepare your falcons jersey for when the falcons go to the superdome to play for the superbowl this year! This team has more class than any in the league! This is the year atlanta explodes onto the scene!

Priceless

January 4th, 2013
5:50 pm

My name will be all the sweeter late in the afternoon on Jan 13th when the Failcons take their rightful place on the sofa to watch the rest of the playoffs @ 0-4 with Smitty , Matty Melt and the perrenial loser-GONZO

Flamed

January 4th, 2013
7:24 pm

Priceless…that you Choke? Or STB4?

bullrusher1

January 5th, 2013
2:11 am

No player in the game today deserves that ring more than Tony G. He’s an amazing Te, a great mentor, and one of the best players to ever to play the sport. It would be an honor to take him to that ring, and see him wear it when he’s a Falcons/Chiefs commentator in the future. :)

Get Back Jojo

January 5th, 2013
8:49 am

Win it for ATLANTA….We’re ready all ready!!!

GO FALCONS!!!

violet123

January 5th, 2013
9:24 am

Tony G, thank you for the great year. No matter what the outcome of the playoffs we are not disappointed. Going to the Super Bowl is just icing on the cake. Fans, let’s support the Falcons team by giving them positive comments. Let’s give them hope. GO FALCONS!!!

Esquire

January 5th, 2013
10:06 am

HAL
January 4th, 2013
2:56 pm

@ Kurtis– Now that was funny.

************************************************

Many a comedic careers could be realized with an audience full of HAL’S…..!!!

My trailers got a 7 ft.x 5ft screen & projector

January 5th, 2013
10:57 am

Flamed
January 4th, 2013
7:24 pm

Priceless…that you Choke? Or STB4?

**********************************************

Could even be hiramsaint who watches football in his trailer on a 7×5 projection TV……………..uh, not high def.

Priceless

January 5th, 2013
11:05 am

If he deserved it , he would have it but thats not how you get it- you WIN it and so far Matty Melt-Smitty and Gonzales have been fruitless in that endeavour. What a bunch of little minded liberal democrats who think they and everyone else deserves something instead of working hard and earning something.

Priceless

January 5th, 2013
11:08 am

Esquire- Are you jealous of everyones size compared to yours ?

Esquire

January 5th, 2013
12:07 pm

MaxxFalcon
January 5th, 2013
10:46 am

I was wondering why this article was so good, I knew DOL wasn’t referencing the story of Tantalus…then I saw it was written by Carrol Rogers! Great read, glad to have you writing for our birds!

**************************************************

Is DLed being downsized………………?? How does Carroll look in a bowtie??

Say what

January 5th, 2013
12:25 pm

This is priceless: No matter what happens, “Priceless” will still be a loser.

Esquire

January 5th, 2013
12:49 pm

Size of what Priceless?

liberal democrats???? Is that like a double negative, oxymoron?

Matty Ice Pressure

January 5th, 2013
1:19 pm

If Matty Ice goes 1 and done again, jus wait and see the national headlines.

Choke On My Grits

January 5th, 2013
2:07 pm

Remember….Tony came here because He said He saw confetti falling from the Georgia Dome roof….There’s a reason He’s here !

Matty Ice Pressure

January 5th, 2013
2:16 pm

Tony is here because nobody else was foolish enough to give up a 2nd round draft pick for an aging veteran.

D man

January 5th, 2013
2:29 pm

Tony has been great for the team. Glad he played for us the last few years. Let’s get a ring for Tony and send him to retirement in style…

Vu Ḉa Avant

January 5th, 2013
2:33 pm

Too bad Tony, you’ll retire without ever tasting an NFL playoff game victory.

LOL at the Aints

January 5th, 2013
2:44 pm

Its a Troll Fest!! LOL

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

January 5th, 2013
4:31 pm

Wonder what Harvey Dahl is doing this week?

wisconsinfalcons fan

January 5th, 2013
6:50 pm

It don’t matter who we play stay focus one game at a time an please let’s tackle an not just throw a shoulder are arm at someone geeze, anyway the dirty birds can beat any team this year,and for the love of God if we get the led go for the kill no more letting teams back in he game, don’t ask them to come out and play, just beat that ass and show them the way home with a box of Kleenex tissue, let’s get up now …JUST WIN BABY

Rick in Warner Robins

January 5th, 2013
7:50 pm

Sorry Tony, unfortunately this won’t be the year you win a playoff game. When you have a team that has no pass coverage, no pass rush, no pass blocking and no running game…you’re not going to win.

The Reverend Baby Doctor Bedpan

January 5th, 2013
7:55 pm

Why does everyone say Gonzalez is a future hall of famer? Has he really done that much?

Steve

January 5th, 2013
8:10 pm

@Reverend Baby, If you have to ask that question you don’t belong here.

Mora less Petrino

January 5th, 2013
10:35 pm

Vu Ḉa Avant is French for “seen this before.”

The Vikings look like they do not have inspiration or determination in this game! Seahawks or Redskins heading for ATL.
Looks like all the media “experts” that picked the Bengals might not be as expert as they think they are.

Sav Fan

January 6th, 2013
8:26 am

Let’s hope that the Falcons have their act together-unlike the Bengals or Vikes or it could be a real short preseason

PlanB

January 6th, 2013
1:42 pm

Smitty can’t keep from running MT some of the time. It’s his defensive mind that only thinks of power rather than finesse. Our only hope is that MT has heard us and goes in with an ‘I’ll show them attitude”. I do think DK is trying to phase Turner out. We can’t use many 2nd or 3rd & longs tho.

Enkinan

January 7th, 2013
9:58 am

I hope he is hungry, because with those Seattle corners he is going to be targeted….A LOT.

Hugh Jardon

January 7th, 2013
1:10 pm

Frankly, Tony is about the only hope the Falcons have. Seattle has seen plenty of soft finesse teams with average QB’s and middle of pack defenses with weak offensive lines. MR had a great year but when people think of the upper echelon QBs in the league there ain’t nobody thinking of MR. Even without Clemmons the Hawk defense will present a huge problem for the Falcons o-line….

The Seahawks are great at pass coverage but they have not faced a TE like Tony. If the Falcons can find a way to mix it up with TG there might be a chance.

But this game could be a real blowout

Hugh Jardon

January 7th, 2013
1:24 pm

Redskins didn’t run one play in Seahawk territory after the first quarter. The farthest downfield they got at their 14 was to reach their own 40 yard line.

Watch out Falcons, the Seahawks D is much better than you think. And your D can not contain Lynch and Wilson. I think they have too many weapons for you. We didn’t see much of the read-draw that they have had so much success with.

But Falcons didn’t get here easy and this could be a great game.
But I call a Seahawk win at 31-17

Matt

January 7th, 2013
8:12 pm

I’ll say this much, with gonzalez in possibly his last season, asante losing his mother, and having all our players healthy…I can’t stop thinking about that movie “remember the titans” when the D coordinator said if they gain one yard i will take all of you out of the game, and the butt whooping that ensued. I expect that sunday, seattle doesn’t know what’s coming…but it’s coming…