Atlanta Falcons fans packed Manuel’s Tavern in anticipation of a playoff game that they said could change the narrative surrounding the city’s woeful postseason history.
With many wearing Matt Ryan and Julio Jones jerseys, they elbowed for spots near the Highlands-area bar that had clear views of TVs.
“Everybody is coming together for this game,” said Katie Murray, who has lived in metro Atlanta her whole life. “When the home team struggles for so long and then makes a Super Bowl run, the community is going to pull together.”
Chris Shattuck, wearing a Ryan jersey, said a victory in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers would mean everything for Atlanta.
“Atlanta has been out of the national sports press for a while. This could make the difference,” he said. “It’s going to be loud. We’re going to make it loud.”
Shattuck and Melissa McCullers arrived to the game nearly an hour before it began to make sure they found seats. Those who arrived later found the restaurant and bar were already full.
Cheers erupted from around the bar as the Falcons received the kickoff and then scored the game’s first touchdown.
“The energy in the city is different this year,” said McCullers, who moved from Orlando, Fla., a couple of years ago. “I’m a transplant, but there are really great fans here.”