Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: White reflects on the NFC championship game catch that got away

1. WHITE ON NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Former Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, who still wants to play two more years in the NFL, wasn’t ready to reflect on his storied career just yet.

However, White admitted that he still thinks about the fourth down play against the 49ers in the NFC championship game, when a pass intended for him fell incomplete. It appeared that San Francisco linebacker Navorro Bowman interfered on the play.

If White could have somehow made that catch, the Falcons may have advanced to only the second Super Bowl in franchise history.

“I think about that game all the time,” White said. “There were so many different things that I felt like. We had so many opportunities to win that game and we just kind of like, gave it away. Every time that I think about that game I think about all of the miscues and the turnovers we had that we could have avoided.

“Just some opportunities that we had to score touchdowns and we couldn’t. We just missed it by one or two inches. That’s football. I feel like that team was good enough to win it all and we didn’t get it done that day.”

The Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the defense collapsed. The 49ers took a 28-24 lead with just over 8 minutes to play. The Falcons drove from their 20 to San Francisco's 10. On fourth-and-4, Ryan, like had so many times before, passed to White, who was on an inside cut. The 49ers got the ball back with 1:09 to play and ran out all but six seconds.

White doesn’t think a flag should have been thrown on the play.

“Yeah, but they (aren’t) going to call it when you’re only 6 yards away,” White said. “It was a kind of in-between play. So, I was just frustrated. Just very frustrated. We could have won the game on three or four plays before that.”

White will do a full reflective later.

“I just have been taking everything as it comes,” White said. “ I was just trying to have as much fun as possible. That’s been my demeanor ever since I got there. Have fun and play football. That’s what it was. I never thought about it coming to an end.

“I just went out there and tried to have as much fun as possible.  Now, that I’m done with it… I’ll look back after I’m finished playing ball. I’ll think about it then. At this point, I haven’t thought about it all.”

White hasn’t signed with a team yet, but would like to play for a Super Bowl contender.

“If those teams are going to offer me a chance to come out there and play football, I’m going to go and play,” White said. “Any team that I feel like is a title contender and I feel like I can go up there and help them win, I’m going to do that first before I play with somebody else who’s (not) in that position yet.”

2. DEPTH PATROL: The Falcons signed safety Damian Parms, wide receiver Aldrick Robinson, and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke on Tuesday.

Parms, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, originally signed with the Falcons as an undrafted college free agent following the 2015 NFL draft out of Florida Atlantic.

Robinson, 5-10, 184 pounds, was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2011 NFL draft out of SMU. He played in 36 games with three starts for Washington. He’s also been on Baltimore’s practice squad.

Van Dyke, 6-1, 185 pounds, was drafted by the Raiders in the third round (81st overall) of the 2011 NFL draft out of Miami. He’s also spent some time with Pittsburgh.

3. MOCK PICKS: Folks are all over the board on who the Falcons will select with the 17h overall pick.

4. KOETTER ON RYAN: Tampa Bay introduced former Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes in a press conference yesterday and head coach Dirk Koetter fired a few shots at Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Our pals at sent this along.

“I know first-hand from my time going against Brent in Atlanta in practice. You know, I haven’t seen Matt Ryan back down from too many corners,” said Koetter, who was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2012-2014. “But Matt would tell me every day, we can’t throw this route on that side because Grimes is over there.’ And I’d (say,) ‘What? We can go against that guy.

“I think he had about 15 picks that first season I was there.”

Of course, the Bucs have turned into Falcons South with Koetter, Grimes and Mike Smith on hand as the defensive coordinator. The Bucs also scooped up center Joe Hawley, when he was cut by the Falcons last season.

The Bucs swept the Falcons last season.

5. MALZAHN ON BARBER: Auburn running back Peyton Barber, who played at Milton High, decided to leave school early to help out his mother.

“We are rooting for him,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “It looked like he had a very good day (at Auburn’s Pro Day.) He did a good job at the combine. He’s a young guy. He’s got a good upside. He’ll protect. He’ll block. He runs with good pad level. He’s a tough guy.”

Barber wants to help is mother Lori, who is homeless.

“It’s about family,” said Barber, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds and 4.60 seconds. He was slightly faster than the 4.64 he ran at the combine.

“I feel that I have a pretty good chance,” Barber said. “I can run the ball and catch the ball. I can block. Anything that you need me to do.”

Despite the slow times for a running back, Barber believes he’ll get drafted.

“I expect to get drafted, but if it doesn’t happen I just need a chance,” he said. “That’s all I need. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to come out, but that’s my family. We have to stick together. My mom doesn’t have healthcare right now, so I definitely want to help here out.”

Barber is ready to go the undrafted route if necessary. He’s familiar with how former Auburn standout Robenson Therezie made the Falcons as an undrafted player.

“I do know his story and what he had to go through,” Barber said. “But at the end of day, that definitely gave me a lot of encouragement. If I just trust in God and have faith I know I can do all things through him.”

6. KEITH MARSHALL IS INTRIGUING: NFL scouts were intrigued by former Georgia running back Keith Marshall's scouting combine performance, but he needs a strong Pro Day on Wednesday to improve his draft status. Read what the scouts had to say about Marshall.

7. VITAL LAND S WITH COWBOYS:  Former Falcons executive Lionel Vital, who declined to take a demotion and left the team, has been added to the Dallas Cowboys scouting department as a senior personnel executive on Tuesday.

He will report to Will McClay, the Cowboys' senior director of college and pro scouting.

Vita, a long-time scout, has personnel experience with Baltimore, New England, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. He has spent the past eight years with the Falcons, starting as a national scout before being elevated to director of player personnel in 2013.

8. Long to Patriots:  Defensive end Chris Long, who visited with the Falcons last week, is  set to sign a one-year deal with the Patriots, according to ESPN’s Trey Wingo.

Long, the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long,  also visited Washington and was set to visit Dallas.

9. SALARY CAP: According to the NFLPA daily salary cap report, the Falcons have $10,132,142 left to spend.


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.