As the October spooky season got underway, the San Francisco 49ers were haunted by the ghost of Dre Bly.
The 49ers lost a game they had in their hands, or rather, Nate Clements' hands. Clemens fumbled away a game-winning interception inside the two-minute warning, and the Atlanta Falcons made the 49ers pay. The Falcons marched the recovered fumble down field for the winning field goal with only two seconds left and handed the 49ers a 16-14 loss.
The 49ers fall to 0-4. They had led the entire game until those final two seconds.
The Mike Johnson offensive coordinator era started off in fabulous fashion, when the team took an immediate early lead.
The 49ers scored an opening drive touchdown for the first time all season and took an early 7-0 lead. It was a nice mix of run, pass, pass interference penalties against Atlanta, and overturned calls that went the 49ers' way.
Vernon Davis was awarded an 11-yard touchdown catch when replay officials saw that his hand did get the ball over the goal line. Good thing he had those pink gloves on!
But the apparent game-changer came on the next series, when the 49ers special teams served up a blocked punt for a touchdown, perhaps the single most awesome type of play in the game of football.
With Atlanta punting from their own end zone, the 49ers blocked the punt straight up high in the air. Taylor Mays showed amazing awareness dashing to the back of the end zone, and keeping his tippy-toes in bounds while grabbing the pop fly for a touchdown.
The 49ers were up 14-0 in the first quarter, but a Matt Ryan touchdown throw and a field goal in the closing seconds brought the Falcons back to 14-10 at halftime.
And it sure looked like they'd hold on and win 14-13, when Nate Clements intercepted Matt Ryan on the Falcons' last-gasp drive.
Clements intercepted the ball at midfield with 1:25 left in the game and the 49ers up 14-13. He could have just fallen down. He did not.
Clements dashed for the end zone and a possible pick-six, but Falcon Roddy White caught Clements from behind and punched the ball out. The Falcons were given the ball back at their own seven yard line, and engineered a successful drive.
The Falcons drove down to the 49ers' 25-yard line, and the Falcons' Matt Bryant kicked the winning field with two seconds remaining in the game.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thinks Alex Smith should have worn a pink wristband with the plays on it.