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Gonzalez Just the Man KC Fans Remembered

It didn’t take long for Tony Gonzalez to feel back home inside Arrowhead Stadium this morning. The game hadn’t even started, in fact, and Gonzalez was already blowing kisses to the Arrowhead faithful he used as his audience for a dozen seasons from 1997 to 2008.

The tone was set well before kickoff. Gonzalez could catch go without a catch, or he could catch 35 passes. It wouldn’t matter, because for one more Sunday the Hall of Fame tight end was back in the place where his NFL journey had begun.

Gonzalez did contribute though, and showed that in the spot where it all began, for no reason must it end. Playing in his 16th opening day, Gonzalez caught five passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.

He also brought back his trademark post-TD spike, over the crossbar and down into the turf.
More importantly, Gonzalez proved instrumental in generating the type of rhythm the Falcons hope to maintain throughout the year. Gonzalez and Harry Douglas caught the short and intermediate throws. Roddy White and Julio Jones hauled in the deep ones.

By the end of the third quarter, the Falcons had four touchdowns to show for it. Ryan finished the day with three touchdowns and 299 passing yards. All but six of those yards came on throws to White, Jones, Douglas and Gonzalez. There was little aid from the ground game, but it didn’t matter. The Falcons put on a passing clinic.

And right there to balance things out was the man with more catches than any other in this history of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gonzalez’s role in the Atlanta offense is different that it was in Kansas City’s, and the KC crowd saw that today.
When Matt Ryan winds up and sets sail with a deep pass, more often than not Gonzalez isn’t the man on the receiving end. He doesn’t have to be in Dirk Koetter’s offense, the way he did in Dick Vermeil’s and Herm Edwards’.

The one carry over Gonzalez brought to Atlanta from KC is consistency, and in his final ever Arrowhead Stadium performance, #88 showed all of us he’s still got it. Five catches resulting from six targets. 10.6 yards per catch.

The stat line of a man who’s ability to adjust has made his team’s passing offense one of the most feared in the NFL.

Sunday’s performance won’t be duplicated 15 times this fall. The skill is there and the weapons are there, but NFL defense make adjustments too.

But few NFL defenses have a pedigree quite like Gonzalez’s. While days off are granted to quarterbacks, deep threat receivers and, as was the case today, running backs, the best tight end to ever play the game will be there, sure handed and open for a gain of nine.

Sunday afternoon’s stage was just a little bit brighter.


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