It’s been about a month since we played this game, but it is still clear as day. This was by far the most emotional game I have experienced in my 11 seasons with the team.
We had a few unique things going on before this game, so we had to get there pretty early. The day started by meeting up in the locker room to shoot a wide shot of with the jerseys hung up in their lockers and helmets polished before the players arrived. We needed to capture an asset for Gatorade as well as wanted to update the locker room images we had in our library.
I wanted to do something different this game for kickoff. Id been shooting player intros all year and we had Scott Kelby setting up a few remote cameras. I knew the gate give away this game was going to be a Falcons Rise Up flag so I wanted to go up into the 300 Level and shoot the crowd waving the flags with a wide angle lens. In hindsight, I should have gotten up top earlier and scouted out a better position. I didn’t quite get the visual I was hoping for with all the waving flags, but I did get an excellent perspective of the 100 yard American Flag.
The Dome was electric, and the fans played a big part in the early success of the team. The team dominated the first half. We went into halftime, and I thought we had the game locked up. The roller coaster of emotions that swept through the 2nd half is indescribable. There was a moment where I thought I was going to be physically sick as the game was slipping away from us.
And then there was the kick that won it in the final seconds of the game! At the end of the game, the players and staff rushed the field, and the crowd erupted as I’ve never seen in the Dome before. For a brief moment I got swept up in the emotion and began celebrating but then threw down my 400mm and started frantically administering around trying to capture the celebrations, the emotions and the tears of joy that poured out onto that field. This was a huge win. The stigmata of having never won a playoff game under the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era was lifted. Future first round ballot Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez had just won his first playoff game in his 17-year career. I was lucky enough to make my way to the bench area when Tony was celebrating with position coach Chris Scelfo, RB Michael Turner and WR Roddy White.