Falcons fans and the 2012 Falcons players established a special relationship during the 2012 season. When it seemed no one would give the Falcons a chance, Atlanta fans continued to support their franchise and turned up stronger at home games each week to cheer their team on to victory. As the season progressed, the relationship between the two progressed as well, growing into the tremendous home-field advantage that showed itself during the playoffs this season.
Against Seattle in the second round, Falcons fans showed up early to the Georgia Dome and were making plenty of noise before anyone even took the field for kickoff. They did the same against the 49ers on Sunday and stayed engaged with the game and its players until the final moments when a comeback was no longer a possibility. Fans had seen plenty of comebacks this season and they continued to cheer for another one. That confidence to come back was shared between the fans and players on the final drive.
"I had all the faith in the world," safety Thomas DeCoud said. "We've been in those positions six or seven times this year before with the game resting on our offense's shoulders and they've come through. (Sunday) it didn't fall in our favor."
Following the game, players spoke about the disappointment of the loss and feelings of lost opportunities for veteran players like Tony Gonzalez and Mike Peterson, who at the end of their careers may not get another shot at a Super Bowl. They also expressed their disappointment in not coming through for the fans.
"The fans showed up all season and that's who we did it for, the whole city of Atlanta because it's never been done," William Moore said. "... I just wish we could've gotten it done for them because they believed and we believed, too. We just fell short."
Atlanta's crowd noise was a factor all season and especially in the playoffs. Against San Francisco they forced a delay of game penalty in the second quarter and they pushed the 49ers offense to the brink of others as San Francisco's QB Colin Kaepernick attempted to communicate changes of plans at the line of scrimmage over the deafening home crowd.
The Georgia Dome and the environment the fans created there became a national story during the playoff run and they possibly helped establish a tradition moving forward of a new era of Falcons fan that makes life incredibly difficult for opposing teams when they travel to Atlanta to play. Many Falcons acknowledged the role the fans played and shared appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support, especially during the playoffs.
"We've fought since training camp to put ourselves in the position that we were in (Sunday) and the fans have been supportive on and off the field," Moore said.