(Editor's Note: Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl fullback Ovie Mughelli, a former Porter-Gaud star, chronicled the NFL season for The Post and Courier.)
That wasn't how the season was supposed to end.
We were supposed to be standing on the field at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas with the confetti dropping on us, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, celebrating our Super Bowl victory with Matt Ryan or Roddy White or John Abraham looking into the camera saying, "I'm going to Disney World!"
That's the way it's supposed to end. At least that how I envisioned it.
Instead we got rear ends handed to us by the Green Bay Packers on national TV and in front of our own fans, which just made the night that much more painful for everyone in an Atlanta Falcons jersey. I honestly, don't know the final score. I know that sounds horrible, but when the Packers hit 40 points, I stopped paying attention.
It was a miserable night, maybe one of the worst of my career because I honestly thought we had the team to win the Super Bowl this season.
When we lost this season, we lost because we made dumb mistakes and turned the ball over. The same thing happened against Green Bay. We had blown assignments, mental mistakes and turnovers. Things we didn't do during the regular season. We just didn't play Falcons football. It was so disappointing.
You could see the hope getting knocked out of everyone on the sidelines with each Green Bay touchdown. It was like a sniper was at the top of the Georgia Dome picking us off one by one. In the fourth quarter, I was on sidelines trying to get everyone up.
I was saying, "Come on, it's not over. We can do this. We can come back. We've done it all year."
Then one of the veterans, I'm not going to say who, came up and said, "Ovie, it's over." He was right. We were down by four touchdowns. It was over.
Everyone was very emotional in the locker room after the game. I hate that this season had to come to an end. This was a unique team. We were all very tight, which is why I think we had such a good regular season. I'll miss the guys and this team.
I went home and went to bed. I stayed in bed a long time Sunday morning. I didn't want to get up. When I first woke up, it was almost like I was dreaming. I was thinking, last night didn't happen, did it? There's no way Green Bay could have come into the Georgia Dome and beat us like they did.
But they did.
I guess "da Nile" ain't just a river in Egypt.
We had our exit interviews and physicals Sunday and Monday.
It's going to take a few weeks for me to mentally process the season. We did a lot of great things. We won a division title, we had the best record in the NFC and we had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. All great things when you think about it.
We should be proud of what we accomplished on the field, but after exiting the playoffs so quickly it's hard to feel good about the season as a whole. We're professionals. We're paid a lot of money to win football games, but we didn't win the biggest prize of all.
In a lot of ways, if you don't win a Super Bowl, you failed. So, at the end of the season only one team has really succeeded. That's just the way it is in the NFL. I'm sure in a couple of months or years I'll look back on this season and remember everything that we did and feel a real sense of accomplishment.
But right now it just hurts.
Pro Bowl Bound
I guess the one consolation to losing to Green Bay is that I get to go to my first Pro Bowl in Hawaii. It truly is an honor and I'm blessed that I'm able to go.
I'm really looking forward to it. I've heard from veteran Pro Bowl guys like Roddy White that you really don't practice. A lot of the guys practice in sandals and flip flops, so it's very laid back. It's exactly what I need right now.
I'm leaving for Honolulu on Tuesday. I've been to Hawaii a couple of times. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I want to thank everyone who has been reading this column each week. It's been a lot of fun and I hope I've given you a little insight into what it's like to play in the NFL.
I hope to see you guys next season in the neighborhood on Ovie's Block.
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