Gonzalez said pride plays a part in the motivation for both him and the Falcons to end the drought.
“Legacy is what comes in,” he said. “What you do in the playoffs is what (people) remember. It’s a little bit of pressure; it’s a little bit of anxiety, but that’s good. We need that. I need that. I like having a little bit of anxiety because it keeps me going, keeps me alert.”
Gonzalez said it would be “well into the off-season” before he makes his decision official because he wants to talk with his family and make sure he’s doing the right thing. Falcons coach Mike Smith said he’s still clinging to the 5 percent chance that Gonzalez will change his mind and return for another season.
Gonzalez didn’t want to talk about what it would mean to end his career without a playoff victory, but didn’t play down the importance of the game Sunday.
“I’m not going to lie to you: I really, really want to win this game,” he said. “Not just for me, honestly, but for the guys on this team, how hard we’ve worked. This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of as far as environment and talent, too. I really feel we have a real good shot. If we go out there and play our game, we will like the outcome.”
Early birds: The Falcons' marketing department sent out a release Thursday encouraging fans to arrive early because of expected traffic delays. A clue that the reminder wasn't just about making sure fans aren't inconvenienced was in this quote by senior vice president Jim Smith:
“The Georgia Dome has had an electric atmosphere all season, and we are all looking forward to a great game on Sunday.”
The Falcons want their fans, some of whom are notoriously late getting to their seats, on time and ready to go for the 1 p.m. kickoff.
“I expect them to be there a little early so that we can get the show rolling quick,” safety William Moore said. “We’re going to need it. It’s going to be a big environment. We have a great team coming into the Dome. Every little (angle) we can use, we need it.”
Baker backer: Falcons left tackle Sam Baker is enjoying a strong season after some injury setbacks, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who coached Baker at USC, has noticed.
Carroll said Baker is a “tremendous person” who was a “fantastic leader” for the Trojans.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled about competing against him because of how much respect and love I have for Sammy,” Carroll said. “I think he’s playing the best football that he’s played. He looks like he’s at his very best. We recognize that on our end. More power to him.”
Injury report: Falcons reserve cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) sat out practice for the second consecutive day Thursday. Owens missed the regular-season finale against Tampa Bay with the injury.
Safety Charles Mitchell (calf) participated in practice on a limited basis Thursday after he missed the previous day. Moore (hamstring) and defensive end John Abraham (ankle) again were limited in practice.