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Worst losses of the Mike Smith era, ranked: The 2012 NFC Championship takes the No. 1 spot

It was the stuff of nightmares.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Mike Smith and Matt Ryan finally won a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round after the 2012 season. One week later, the team crushed our collective spirit by blowing a lead in the second half and losing to the San Francisco 49ers.

Look, I’m not going to belabor this one, because it is the second-most frustrating loss I have ever had to endure from this team. Smitty isn’t responsible for the worst loss of my Falcons fandom. That would be Super Bowl LI, which I’m still not even really ready to discuss. But this one, which sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens, was definitely the worst loss of my entire life until the Falcons blew it against the Patriots in February.

They played so well early in the game, jumping out to a 17-0 first-half lead. Then the third quarter came — remember the existential dread that filled us all every time the team came back out onto the field after the half of every single game? — and the Falcons saw that lead slip away.

Julio Jones had eight catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 396 yards, three touchdowns and a pick.

And yes, Roddy White was held toward the end of the game. And Harry Douglas did just randomly fall down untouched after a catch. And everything was stupid and horrible. It was Tony Gonzalez’s last shot at a Super Bowl ring, and the team couldn’t score a single damn point in the second half.

The Ravens were infinitely beatable that season. I maintain that, had the Falcons pulled off the win over the 49ers, Atlanta would have a ring right now that we could all rub in Saints fans’ faces. Instead, here we are, just enduring endless 28-3 jokes.