SAN FRANCISCO -- The ball just hasn't bounced in favor of the Atlanta Falcons this season of unfulfilled expectations.
And it didn't on "Monday Night Football" against the San Francisco 49ers in their last game at historical Candlestick Park.
With the Falcons driving in for the go-ahead touchdown, Matt Ryan's pass intended for Harry Douglas was broken up by San Francisco cornerback Tramaine Brock. It popped up in the waiting arms of 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who raced 89 yards for a touchdown to secure a 34-24 victory.
The locals stood for the final minutes and chanted, "Candlestick, Candlestick." After playing a strong first half, the Falcons were outscored 10-0 in the third quarter. Like they have in so many games in Ryan's first five season, the Falcons rally behind him and even got the an onside kick recovery from Jason Snelling to set up the potential game-winning drive.
The 49ers improved to 11-4, while the Falcons dropped to 4-11 and guaranteed that they will be drafting no lower than eighth in the upcoming 2014 NFL draft in May 8-10.
There was nothing on the line for the Falcons but pride and draft position. They played a strong first half before being outscored 10-0 in the third quarter. For the season, the Falcons have been outscored 89-49 in the third period.
This third-quarter meltdown kicked away the Falcons' 10-3 halftime lead.
But they stormed back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, before the bizarre interception.
Ryan completed 37 of 48 passes for 348 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Roddy White has 12 catches for 141 yards and a 39-yard touchdown.
The 49ers did most of their damage on the ground. Running back Frank Gore rushed 21 times for 91 yards. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had 51 yards on six rushes, and Kendall Hunter had 51 yards on three carries.
(c)2013 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)
Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services