Around 4:00 PM Eastern time on Sunday, January 13, 2013, The Atlanta Falcons officially put the sports media world on notice -- this isn’t the same old Falcons.
We have a quarterback, coaching staff and team who can compete in the playoffs.
As Julio Jones intercepted Russell Wilson’s desperation fling into the end-zone to preserve Atlanta’s improbable 30-28 come-back win over Seattle, he ended the most intriguing fourth quarter of this year's playoffs.
From the beginning of the quarter until the final 13 seconds, it appeared as if the Falcons had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
When the fourth quarter began, Atlanta led The Seahawks 27-7. However, as time ticked away so did the points separating the teams. Seattle scored 21 unanswered to take a 28-27 lead with just 31 seconds remaining.
During that time, the Falcons' offense that had been practically un-stoppable all afternoon sputtered and stumbled. Long-time Falcons' observers watched in disbelief as the Atlanta team appeared to crumble.
In the meantime, Seattle grew stronger and their offense was the one that became unstoppable. Still, somehow when it was over, Atlanta prevailed. Thus ended the playoff drought for the Falcons' head coach and their star quarterback.
Win or lose next week, no one can deny that the Falcons rose up and took back a game they had all but given away in the fourth quarter.
Wins like this can be a motivating force. Such games can generate a wave of positive reinforcement - that some teams mount and ride - all the way to a Super Bowl win.
There are a number of reasons why this Falcons team can do the same. Why this can be the year Atlanta finally breaks through and wins the Super Bowl.
The following are my top five reasons the Atlanta Falcons will win the Super Bowl this year.