31 seconds

AP Photo/John Bazemore
AP Photo/John Bazemore

A million thoughts raced through my head when Marshawn Lynch punched it in from the 1-yard-line and the Seattle Seahawks took a 28-27 lead over the Falcons with 31 seconds left in the football game on Sunday.

“What did this city do to deserve the sports torture we’re forced to endure, seemingly every year?”

“Wow, we’re really going to have to fire our head coach, even though he’s turning out 13-3 seasons.”

“I’m going to have to show some serious restraint if anybody mentions this game, at any point, for the rest of my life.”

But at no point in my train of thought did I even think of the possibility that the offense responsible for so many last-minute comebacks would do it again. It’s not because I didn’t trust our offense to make a few big plays, either.

It’s because I’m an Atlanta fan. And that’s how we’ve been taught to think in our lives. But this 31 seconds was different.

You know the rest — Falcons get into field goal range, Matt Bryant misses the first try from 48 yards, gets bailed out by a Pete Carroll timeout, and makes the second try. Squib kick goes horribly wrong, but Julio Jones gets his first career interception, and the Falcons will host the NFC Championship game for the first time in human history.

What happened after that was even cooler.

Walking down the ramps in the Georgia Dome, the noise level never declined. Strangers were high-fiving and hugging. Outside the stadium, on Highway 41, a mob scene broke out as fans blasted rap music and danced together.

As for the game-winning field goal, I never saw it actually go through the uprights. I saw it get a good start and waited for the roar. I’m a jump-around-and-celebrate-when-something-good-happens kind of guy, but this time, all I could do was sit down in my seat and try to comprehend what just happened. I assure you, it was extremely hard to process those 31 seconds.

We actually had a break go our way for once.

What did our city do to deserve that?

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