Redskins

Bowman, 49ers shut down Falcons in 2nd half

201301201453536249568-p2.jpeg

Bowman, 49ers shut down Falcons in 2nd half

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

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 andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Five of the most memorable and wild Redskins upsets from the past 10 years

usatsi_10395124_141983962_lowres.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Five of the most memorable and wild Redskins upsets from the past 10 years

Upsets get a lot of attention in March, due to the allure of the NCAA Tournament and the non-allure of everyone who loves to talk about how THEY CALLED that upset that YOU DIDN'T.

With that being said, upsets happen every month of the year, and they go down weekly in the NFL. So, how about we look back at some of the Redskins' particularly surprising wins from the past decade?

Here are five of the most memorable. 

5) 2014 - Redskins 27, Eagles 24

The Eagles came into FedEx Field late in 2014 with a 9-5 record needing a win to remain squarely in the playoff hunt. The Redskins, meanwhile, were just 3-11 and had changed quarterbacks a depressing five times.

Yet in this matchup, Robert Griffin III managed the offense well and DeSean Jackson had more than 120 receiving yards against his former team because DeSean Jackson is awesome.

Yes, the 'Skins were outproduced in nearly every major stat category. But Mark Sanchez — sorry, future Redskin great Mark Sanchez — had two costly turnovers and Cody Parkey missed two field goals (Philly fans have probably forgiven him by now), allowing the home team to squeak out a W.

4) 2009 - Redskins 27, Broncos 17

This is one of those random Redskins games you've probably forgotten about because it came in a lost season, but it was still a miraculous victory.

The most iconic play from this one was a Hunter Smith to Mike Sellers TD on a fake field goal — a fake, mind you, that came after a timeout by Jim Zorn because the unit's first fake punt attempt included only 10 players on the field.

Denver was 6-2 but lost Kyle Orton to injury at halftime. Jason Campbell, on the other hand, helped the Burgundy and Gold score more than 17 points for the first time all year.

"We've had a desert experience -- very arid, if you will -- for the last few weeks," Zorn said postgame. "So to be able to come out with a win, you almost don't know how to feel."

The Zorn Era was terrible, but you have to give the dude credit for working "very arid" into an NFL press conference.

3) 2012 - Redskins 40, Saints 32

There was plenty of hype surrounding RG3's debut, but there was no way he was going to lead the Redskins to a win over the Saints... in his debut... in the Superdome... right?

Wrong. Incorrect. Not right.

Griffin found Pierre Garcon early for an 88-yard score and the offense stayed hot all afternoon, outpacing a New Orleans squad that was favored by more than a touchdown. If you want a further reminder of how impressive this effort was, look back at what happened to this franchise in the Superdome this past season. 

2) 2014 - Redskins 20, Cowboys 17

Dallas' six-game winning streak stood no chance against Colt McCoy, as the Texas legend went into the Cowboys' house for a wild Monday Night triumph.

Kai Forbath's field goal sealed it in overtime and Bashaud Breeland dominated Dez Bryant, but McCoy was the star. On the way to his first successful start in close to three seasons, the signal caller went 25 for 30 in the air and found the end zone on the ground, too.

1) 2017 - Redskins 17, Seahawks 14

If someone in your life thinks they can't do something, just pull up the box score or highlights from this contest. They will then realize that nothing is impossible, because the Redskins beating the Seahawks on this Sunday should've been impossible, yet it somehow happened anyway.

Washington went into Seattle's harsh environment down six starters, including three on the O-line, but Kirk Cousins kept things together and found Brian Quick and Josh Doctson for long completions on a harrowing last drive to steal this result. It wasn't quite UMBC over Virginia, but it was absolutely a stunning final nonetheless. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

With nine games left, where do the Wizards stand in the East and NBA Draft Lottery?

With nine games left, where do the Wizards stand in the East and NBA Draft Lottery?

At the beginning of the week, the Washington Wizards had 12 games left on the schedule and needed to win a minimum of eight or nine of those games if they hoped to make the playoffs.

It’s Thursday night and Washington’s loss to the Jazz makes three in a row.

With nine games left on the schedule, where do they stand in the East postseason race and the draft lottery order?

Eastern Conference Standings

Losing three-straight games hasn’t actually dropped the Wizards from the 11th spot in the East, where they’ve hovered the last couple weeks. For that they can thank the tanking Atlanta Hawks.

Don’t think those L’s aren’t costing Washington, though. In the same span of time, the 8-seed Heat have won three in a row.

Now Bradley Beal and Co. are a full six games out of the final playoff spot with nine games to go. They also trail Orlando (34-38) in ninth and Charlotte (32-39) in 10th.

They’re not absolutely, certainly, 100-percent eliminated from playoff contention, but they must win every game left.

Even that might not be enough.

NBA Draft Lottery

Back-to-back-to-back losses took a major toll on whatever playoff hopes Washington had left. For a silver lining, look no further than the team’s draft lottery position.

The Wizards started the week ninth in the draft lottery order, which gave them 20.3 percent odds of scoring a top-four pick (preferably in the form of a Duke freshman or Ja Morant). That ninth spot also carries a 4.5 percent chance at the top-overall pick.

While the Wiz kids were busy dropping 3 games, the two teams immediately ahead of them in the lottery order had better luck.

The Grizzlies won their only game so far this week, while the Pelicans won one of two.

Those results dropped New Orleans to number nine, boosted Washington to number eight and left them tied with Memphis at 15.5 games out of number one in the lottery order (though Memphis’s win percentage is fractionally lower and keeps them in seventh).

If the Wizards can pass the Grizzlies and climb into seventh, that’s a big deal in terms of lottery odds. Simulating the drawing, the ninth-place team gets a top-four pick once in every five simulations. The seventh-place team gets a top-four pick once in every three simulations.

Look Ahead

Washington can’t lose another game if they want to make the playoffs. This is literally must-win territory.

Even winning out is no guarantee they’ll advance to the postseason.

Up next, Washington hosts Miami at home on Saturday, followed by a West Coast road trip the following week.

Games to Watch

Heat at Wizards, Saturday 7 PM

Timberwolves at Grizzlies, Saturday 8 PM

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: