ATLANTA — The Falcons blew another postseason lead, and this time they were unable to pull out a win in Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez's last chance to reach the Super Bowl.

Matt Ryan passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns, but the Falcons were shut out in the second half of their 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Sunday.

"I'm not going to cry about it," Gonzalez said after his 16th NFL season. "I walk away with the satisfaction I left everything, absolutely everything, every time I was on the field.

"I wish it would have culminated with the Super Bowl, but it didn't."

The 36-year-old Gonzalez still has a 13th Pro Bowl to play in, but after spending the season saying he was 95 percent certain he'll retire after the season, he sounded like he's now at 100 percent.

The Falcons led 17-0 in the first half and 24-21 entering the fourth quarter. Frank Gore's second touchdown run midway through the final quarter gave San Francisco its first lead.

Ryan and the Falcons were left 10 yards short of their chance for a second straight last-minute comeback of the postseason. The quarterback led the Falcons from the Atlanta 20 to the 49ers 10. On fourth-and-4 from the 10, Ryan's pass over the middle for Roddy White was deflected by linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

"On fourth down we tried to make something happen and we just couldn't get it done," Ryan said. "We fell a little short. I thought everybody battled real hard, we just didn't make enough plays to get it done."

It was the second straight week the Falcons blew a big lead. They led Seattle 20-0 in the first half of last week's divisional playoff game, but needed a late field goal by Matt Bryant for a 30-28 win. The field goal was set up by Ryan's two clutch passes.

This time, Ryan, Gonzalez and the Falcons came up short in the fourth quarter.

Gonzalez had eight catches for 72 yards including a 10-yard touchdown reception with 25 seconds remaining in the first half. The Falcons didn't score again.

Gonzalez wasn't the only Atlanta player wondering if he would come so close to the Super Bowl. Center Todd McClure, 35, and defensive end John Abraham, 34, each said he plans to play at least one more season. Even so, they were hit hard by the loss.

McClure had to stop and gather his emotions during his postgame comments.

"It's really tough," McClure said. "You play your whole career to get in this situation and to come up short, it's tough."

Asked how he felt, Abraham said "It's a feeling I can't comprehend and can't even speak about because I thought I was going to go on."

"No one in this locker room has any vacation plans because we all thought we were going to the Super Bowl," Abraham said. "You don't get many chances in life to get something you want so bad and to have it taken away from you, it hurts. You never know when you'll get the chance again."

The Falcons had one last chance, taking the ball on their 41 with 6 seconds remaining. Ryan completed a pass to Julio Jones at the 49ers 35 as the game ended.

Ryan said the last pass was intended to be the start of a razzle-dazzle, last-gasp attempt at a big play.

"It was one of those where we toss it all around," Ryan said, adding the play wasn't executed properly.

Ryan took a hit on his left shoulder during the game but said it was "good enough to go" late in the game.

The Falcons (14-4) were denied their second Super Bowl appearance. They lost to Denver in the Super Bowl following the 1998 season.

Despite all the passing yards Ryan was hurt by two turnovers – an interception and a lost fumble on a shotgun snap. Penalties didn't help, either.

The Falcons set NFL record lows for a 16-game schedule with 55 penalties for 415 yards, but coach Mike Smith bemoaned two personal fouls against his team. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas was called for unnecessary roughness in the first half.

A more crucial call came late in the third quarter when defensive end Cliff Matthews hit 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's helmet. If not for the roughing the passer penalty, the Falcons would have had a third-down stop.

"I asked and it was explained to me as forcible contact to the quarterback on the third down that would have gotten us off the field," Smith said. "By rule if it's forcible, it is a penalty. If it's a grazing blow, it's not a penalty."

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  • Matt Ryan

    Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan walks off the field as the San Francisco 49ers celebrate after the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Matt Ryan

    Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan walks off the field after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Jim Harbaugh, Ray McDonald

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  • Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick

    San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, hugs Colin Kaepernick after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • San Francisco 49ers' NaVorro Bowman, Darcel McBath and LaMichael James celebrate as time runs out in the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan

    San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick, right, talks to Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan after the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Super Bowl XLVII. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Todd McClure

    Atlanta Falcons' Todd McClure walks off the field after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Super Bowl XLVII. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Atlanta Falcons' Dunta Robinson sits on the team bench after being defeated by San Francisco 49ers in the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Ricky Jean Francois

    San Francisco 49ers' Ricky Jean Francois reacts after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Matt Ryan

    Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) walks off the field as time runs out in the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Jim Harbaugh

    San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh runs onto the field with an assistant after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick (7) celebrates with Leonard Davis and Daniel Kilgore (67) after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • San Francisco quarterback 49ers Colin Kaepernick, left, speaks with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan during the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Superbowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Frank Gore

    San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore (21) breaks away for a nine-yard touchdown run during the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Harry Douglas

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  • Matt Ryan, Patrick Willis

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  • Frank Gore

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  • Roddy White, Carlos Rogers

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  • Dunta Robinson

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  • Dunta Robinson, Michael Crabtree

    Atlanta Falcons' Dunta Robinson strips the ball from San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree during the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Dunta Robinson, Michael Crabtree

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  • Michael Crabtree

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  • Atlanta Falcons' Stephen Nicholas (54) tries to grab the ball after it was stripped by Dunta Robinson (23) from San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree (15) during the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The Falcons recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Stephen Nicholas, Michael Crabtree

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  • Aldon Smith

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  • Aldon Smith

    San Francisco 49ers' Aldon Smith reacts after recovering a fumble during the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Aldon Smith

    San Francisco 49ers' Aldon Smith (99) celebrates after recovering a fumble during the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • David Akers

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  • David Akers

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  • Chris Culliver

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  • Vernon Davis

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  • Matt Ryan, Chris Culliver

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  • Matt Ryan, Parys Haralson

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  • Chris Culliver

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  • Matt Ryan, Isaac Sopoaga

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  • Frank Gore

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  • Frank Gore

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  • Frank Gore

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  • Fans cheer during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Colin Kaepernick

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  • Julio Jones, Tarell Brown

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  • Tony Gonzalez, Donte Whitner

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  • Tony Gonzalez

    Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez celebrates after his 10-yard touchdown catch during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • Tony Gonzalez

    Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez reacts after his 10-yard touchdown reception during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Tony Gonzalez

    Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez celebrates after his 10-yard touchdown reception during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Tony Gonzalez

    Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez (88) is congratulated by Michael Palmer after his 10-yard touchdown catch during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Julio Jones, Tarell Brown

    Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones catches touchdown pass in front of San Francisco 49ers' Tarell Brown during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Vernon Davis

    San Francisco 49ers' Vernon Davis catches a four-yard touchdown pass during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Vernon Davis, Thomas DeCoud

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  • Colin Kaepernick

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