In the days after the Falcons won their final game of the regular season, clinching among other things their first NFC No. 1 seed since 1980, AtlantaFalcons.com contributing writer Daniel Cox spent time with the fans of the franchise to hear their reactions to their beloved team's successful season, the NFC South division title and what they hope will be a long playoff run.
Through the course of the 2010 season, the Atlanta Falcons have heard from fans all over the world.
From newcomers to the team and the sport in Australia to long-time fans in Iceland and England. Miles separated the fan base, but the fervor that grew as the season progressed joined the nation of fans.
In Atlanta, Falcons fans traveled hours from all directions to converge on the Georgia Dome on game day, creating a home atmosphere that was as integral to the team's success as its Pro Bowl quarterback.
These are their stories.
In Kimberly Johnson's section, there's a fan named Rev. Syko, who is known for his Falcons-rooting antics and team costumes. During the game-winning drive of the Thursday night win over the Ravens, Syko kneeled at his seat and prayed as Matt Ryan led the team down the field.
Johnson said, sadly, the good reverend didn't pray during the Monday night loss to the Saints when the Falcons last had the ball.
Originally from Cleveland, Johnson grew up a Browns fan, but was left without a team during the franchise's move to Baltimore. A residency in Charlotte wasn't enough to convert her to the Panthers, but once she moved to Atlanta in 1998, she adopted the Falcons as her team, once she began paying city property taxes, she said.
For the past nine seasons, she's been a season ticket holder, maintaining that relationship with the team through a move to Houston in 2006. She returned to Atlanta in 2008, just in time to welcome the Mike Smith regime. She gets just as anxious during the final minutes of the Falcons' close wins as her section-mate Rev. Syko, but she's learned the Falcons usually pull through.
"Ever since our comeback in the 2008 Chicago game, I've learned not to blink during the final minutes of the game," Johnson said.
Glissel Soliz sits in section 208 and only knows those that sit around her by one title: "My Falcon Family."
She considers herself a Falcons staffer, updating her Facebook and Twitter accounts countless times throughout the day about the team. She also shares her "Falcon Wardrobe of the Day" pictures through social media.
She has advice for the Falcons nation for the playoff game Jan. 15. She believes honey and lemon should be shared throughout the dome that night, since they help protect the throat.
"My duty as the 12th (wo)man will be to make sure the decibel rating in the dome is higher than the Bears game in the dome back in '08," she said. "Its our time!"
Aqueelah Traylor-Morgan is a Falcons fan by birth. By being her father's daughter, she inherited a love for the Falcons that has stood the test of time.
She and her friends skipped school in January of 1999 to attend the parade held for the Falcons to celebrate their trip to the Super Bowl.
The love Traylor-Morgan has felt for the Falcons has grown this season as she's watched a team of men that represent so much good on the field in many ways. From players to coaches, she's proud of each of them.
"We also have guys who are not only really good on the field, they are good role models off the field," she said. "This has made me even more proud as a fan."
One of the many things that brought so many fans together this season was their experiences at the Georgia Dome.
So many fans spoke of the team and the season, but they also spoke of a family they gained at the team's home turf. They spoke about being a part of something bigger than themselves, a portion of a sea of moving hands and arms, voices rising in jubilation.
Paul Snyder said the Georgia Dome crowd was his favorite part of the season and wants to give a game ball to the fans.
"In seven years of attending home games, this year's crowd has seemed both markedly louder and more consistently loud than any other year, especially on defense," Snyder said. "There are an extra dozen or so fans in section 304 alone that are bringing more noise. It's tough to tell because I'm busy screaming my own head off when the defense is on the field, but I know it's making a difference to the team and the outcomes of the games."
As Samuel L. Jackson implored the city to do before the season began when the franchise unveiled their commercial and season slogan, Atlanta has risen up. The Falcons fans each week have matched the team's intensity on the field and each were rewarded with a season that won't soon be forgotten.