After further review, the Falcons’ collapse was as awful as it seemed

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One picture > 1,000,000 words. (Henry Taylor/AJC photo)

HOUSTON — After further review and not much sleep, this was still awful. And you can’t spell “awful” — or “Atlanta” — without an “a” and an “l.” That’s a cheap line, I grant you. But this one …

It really was the worst.

I passed Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports in the back of the press box an hour after the game. We arched our eyebrows at one another. He said, as a form of commiseration: “This wasn’t your first rodeo.” And that’s the point.

I’ve lived in Atlanta since 1984. I was there for the Leyritz game, the Brooks Conrad game, the Eugene Robinson game, the Wembley game, the blocked-punt-against-the-winless-Colts game, the Levingston-running-lefty-hook game. I’ve seen a lot of lousy endings. This was the lousiest.

It’s one thing — still not a great thing, I’ll concede — if you watch a team collapse and you feel that, for all the heartbreak, the right team won. The right team did not win Sunday night. The Falcons were the better team, and not just by a little, for 50 minutes. They led for 41 minutes. The Patriots led only after the game’s final play, which came in overtime.

I used the word “choke” in what I wrote in the immediate aftermath. I say again: I hate that word and rarely invoke it. I didn’t use it, say, when Brooks Conrad was making three errors because — let’s face it — nobody ever mistook Brooks Conrad for Bill Mazeroski. But this was different. These Falcons were routing the NFL’s best team of the past 15 years, and for all the greatness of Belichick/Brady, they couldn’t have won without the Falcons aiding and abetting.

Kyle Shanahan, mostly masterful over 18 3/4 games, got greedy. Matt Ryan, author of one of the greatest seasons by any quarterback ever and the owner of a perfect passer rating deep into the third quarter of this Super Bowl, took two sacks he could not take. Dan Quinn talked about “staying aggressive,” which is fine in theory but less fine when a dollop of caution would have made the difference between a championship and infamy. Credit the Pats for coming back. Discredit the Falcons for letting them.

There will, I guess, come a time when we can look back at the first 18 games of this shining season and smile. But, to borrow from the final line of “Gladiator,” not yet. Not nearly yet.

From last night: The Falcons lose the most Atlanta game ever.

From today: Their Super collapse could stunt the young Falcons’ growth.

Reader Comments 0

186 comments
NuzeFan
NuzeFan

Mark,
This loss in the Super Bowl was BIG because it WAS the Super Bowl. But it was not unprecedented. Once you realize that, then you know that for all the good that DQ has done this season, there is something not quite right -- at least not yet. Go back and review these 3 games from the regular season: Seattle, San Diego, and Kansas City. The Falcons lost all 4 of these games in the exact same way -- given a late lead, the offense loses their "mojo" or confidence, or whatever you want to  call it, and then they even help those other teams make a comeback by making one critical turnover in the 4th Qtr. Because we have seen this story before, I would have to conclude that there is something not quite right on the part of the coaches. Hopefully, DQ will get the combination right for next season. (And BTW, though you weren't here, the 1980 loss to Dallas felt worse.) 



FalcoonFan1966
FalcoonFan1966

I was here for that Dallas game and, heartbreaking as it was, this feels MUCH worse. If it takes another 18 years to get back I probably won't be around. It's just not meant to be.

mikefino888
mikefino888

This was it . This was THE one. We all hoped,and then it actually began to happen. Finally the magical season was reaching it's zenith . The team that always broke your heart was going to finally finally pay off. We would all be changed. This wasn't Your grand dads Falcons, or your dads or even Mike Smiths. This team had the stones to dare and the brass to achieve. We had beaten the Patriots, won the Super Bowl and at long last become legit. The game was over. But somewhere in the back of our minds was this little voice, this trepidation, this fear. No ,a turnover,No, a 3 and out, where's the pass rush, a sucker play for a 2 point conversion , a sack ,a holding call,leaks springing everywhere , and Brady slicing and dicing. When New England got the ball for the last drive real Falcon fans knew we were doomed. That wasn't Matt Ryan it was Bruce Lemmerman . Vic Beasley had morphed into Aundrey Bruce and Devonta Freeman bore a striking resemblance to Joe Profit.And there we were back at Atlanta Fulton County right where we've always been, breaking hearts like no one else. Losing the Super Bowl bears no shame. If someone told you in August that the Falcons  would lose the Super Bowl in over time you would say "wow what a year , we really came a long way " Well that's true we came a long way, but we handed it all back with interest in that last quarter and a half. Some things just won't ever happen. Charlie Brown won't ever kick that field goal and the Falcons won't ever win the Super Bowl. Hope springs eternal but as of last Sunday about 10:30 pm that spring has run dry.  I give.  

TideDawg
TideDawg

Did the Falcons refuse admittance to a goat in the past? Did they trade a Babe Ruth to the wrong team? So! What happened? Alabama lost....The Falcons lost....Neither team should have lost.


I'm ready for some baseball.....ASAP!

Chris_H
Chris_H

Michael Jordan told Warriors owner "73 wins with no title don't mean s@!$!" - Tom Brady tells Falcons owner "game's not over, b*%$&!"...so endeth the lesson.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Teams from the NFC that did not make it to the super bowl. Let's start with New Orleans.............never mind, it really doesn't matter.

neauxlaxlivSBchamps
neauxlaxlivSBchamps

I'm still laughing at the Falclowns collapse....epic failure.....you will never win a SB and will always be second rate....even if my Saints never win another Lombardi, we will always have one more than you...fact....hurts, right? So sorry....gotta run....25 point lead and you blow it...wow...

hitman57
hitman57

Falcons learned the hard way like soooo many others before them what happens  when u only  show up for the first 45 minutes  of a 60 minute  game against  TB12  the GOAT. That's what separates him from everyone else,. U will never see anyone this great again. He is to football what Michael Jordan was to basketball. A God.

GTroller
GTroller

On a positive note that was a powerful lesson of never giving up--- no matter how improbable the odds, whether you're winning or losing.  The game ain't over until the scoreboard read 0:00.

Toby Allen04
Toby Allen04

TFBGOAT...you little twerp. You actually think the Pats win without the Falcons helping?? Beyond dumb chowdahhead.

"Glaaaastah....theyte always from Glaaaastah"

TFBGOAT
TFBGOAT

LOL, sweetie, if you *actually* think the Falcons were the better team in this matchup I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. "We beat ourselves" is the bitter loser's mantra. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick beat you because they are simply the Greatest of All Time, and now Atlanta knows it too. But hey, whatever helps you sleep at night. #TB12 #tomeffingbrady #goat

MoreySims
MoreySims

hopefully they dump that annoying "rise up" thing next year with the new stadium---i'm sick of it. Get a real slogan.

David
David

Patriot's lifetime fan here, and we all salute and respect The Falcons players, organization and fans.

Sgttrunk
Sgttrunk

In order for a team losing 28-3 to win, they have to help from the other team especially when you have less than a half to do it.  Atlanta's offensive play calling in throwing on 3rd and 1, late in the 4th, when they were successful in running the ball, was the crack in the door that allowed the Patriots to have a short field.  If the Falcons run the ball on 3rd down and punt on 4th they are SB Champions.  Tough to swallow but that is why Belichik is the best coach in the NFL.

StayingtheCourse
StayingtheCourse

It is over ... and at the goal line on the game winner for the patriots #45 Deion Jones was in position to make the play and the lineman grabbed his pads high (horse collar fashion) and turned his shoulders ... thinking Jones would have made that play ... but

Big Wally
Big Wally

Atlanta Falcons, a global joke and embarrassment.  Way to make the city proud. 

Big Wally
Big Wally

When camp opens next summer, Arthur should make the coaches and players watch the last quarter and a half of that game everyday until the season starts.  They should title this film study "this is what losers do".

EightBurros
EightBurros

@Big Wally arthur will be on a 5 star world vacation at that time, probably with a new girlfriend.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Big Wally After that make them watch the dawgs squander a 13 point lead with 6:00 minutes left...and then the Vandy game.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Hiram....You write amazingly like OH:IO are you lycanthropic. You appear in different forms on the blog.

NorwegianBlue
NorwegianBlue

I'm posting this in the interest of accountability. I told all of my family, friends, and anyone reading this site to take the Falcons and don't look back. I said it repeatedly for two weeks. And at the end of the day, we lost the game. The two teams that I expected to show up played to a 28-3 Falcons lead. I cannot fathom what happened after that, other than Brady/Belichick did what they do. Hats off to them. Hopefully CDQ, Ryan & Co. will lead this franchise back to the SB again, maybe even a few times. For now, I'm going back into the bat cave, for as long as it takes. Still in total shock.

betterday
betterday

Would all you yankee transplants cut the crap?  If you can't support the Atlanta teams, you shouldn't be here taking up a job that some Georgian needs/wants, nor enjoying living in our great city.  Take your Boston loving butts back up north -- like Grizzard always said, "Delta is ready when you are - get your heart in, or your a** out!"


Last night was heartbreak for all us Atlanta natives along with transplants who actually love ATL and as good citizens support our city - including our pro sports teams.  Go back wherever you call home - or at least don't hurl snark!

Mocha Fudge
Mocha Fudge

@betterday Hush....the better team won.  Hopefully, Atlanta can come back strong next season.  They are a young team.... hopefully, they will come back stronger.  

betterday
betterday

@Mocha Fudge @betterday No, like Bradley said, the better team did not win.  The Pats got a gift from Shanahan's bad play call at the end of the game, plus a gift coin toss in overtime.  

ghsbears94
ghsbears94

Is everybody through downplaying or disgracing the Atlanta Falcons on the way they played. To be able to play with the teams that has won the SB (Patriots in 2001,2003,2004,2014,2016 and the Broncos in 1997,1998, 2015) you have to learn from your mistakes. Yes, last night Atlanta made mistakes throughout the game, but that's the teaching moment they can learn from. This lesson is an hard, but valuable lesson. Atlanta's defense was very young (1-2 yrs.) experience, they alone will get better. The Offense will get better. My point is Atlanta has only played in 2 SB, they will get better and will be back in the SB.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@ghsbears94

Did they learn from their mistakes in their first Super Bowl?!

Obviously not.

Your sermon is worthless.

Frank Lyons
Frank Lyons

quinn cost you the superbowl, not shanahan. it was his duty to manage the game. up 16 with 9 minutes to play...he blew it.

David Mark Belcher
David Mark Belcher

You have 60 minutes to play.  If this was 50 minutes football, yeah the Falcons win.  The better team doesn't allow a lesser team to come back from a 25 point deficit.  That is why it has never happened in the Super Bowl before.  The better team, the Patriots, made some bad mistakes that gifted the Falcons a 25 point lead.  It will be tough to come back from a loss like this.  I like Matt Ryan and hope he eventually he gets his  ring.  Just not against the Pats.

Mocha Fudge
Mocha Fudge

@David Mark Belcher I totally agree.  I am a die heart Pats fan. I live in Atlanta and support the Falcons as a season ticket holder.  I would love to see the Falcons win the big game...... but NOT against the Patriots!! 

TideDawg
TideDawg

For the Cajun guy...........Mother Nature tried to reclaim the coastal area swamp known as New Orleans (or Nawlins as some call it), by sending in Katrina. However, the government decided to save it. Leave it to the government to not recognize a problem area.

hiramsaint
hiramsaint

@TideDawg Was that why Skanklanta was rebuilt after the US army burned it to the ground?

keepyourfoot on the gas
keepyourfoot on the gas

The difference between BB and the Atlanta coaches . He does not make stupid mistakes. He knows when to run the ball and how to manage a clock. The coaches were to busy thinking about the celebration before the game was won. Notice the owner was on the field ready to celebrate.

MoreySims
MoreySims

shanahan, ryan, matthews--biggest choke in pro football history. They had the game won---all they had to do was run the ball. 

Another comment
Another comment

Lack of tackling! they should have kept guys like Kroy Biermann that have Heart

Roymus
Roymus

Maybe there’s a silver lining here.  As a result of this historic choke, can we start fresh in the new stadium by losing that insipid and nausea-inducing “Rise Up” slogan?  Maybe next year our fans can come up with something themselves like they do in other cities, instead of having it be force-fed to us like a bunch of baby birds (hey, that metaphor works on so many levels!).  


While we’re at it, as we move into SunTrust Park let’s get rid of the chopping and chanting for the Braves, too.  I’ve been annoyed by that for over 25 years now.  The whole thing was started by Deion Sanders, who was ripping off the Seminoles (Deion played for FSU ,remember).  It’s unoriginal and easily mocked by other fans…often mocked, I might add.


Who’s with me on this?


B_D
B_D

@Roymus Have you been to or seen a Cleveland Indian game?  They do the same thing.  Also, that chant started for the Braves back when they were in Milwaukee.  Way before Deion was even born.  They used to have a Native American in a Teepee who came out and did a dance to the music and chant when a Braves player hit a home run.  They called him Chief Noc-A-Homa.  This was before political correctness.  You can, of course, look it up.

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Bradley called for a Falcon win!!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@LOGS1973

And you made many ignorant predictions last football season. Here's just the very tip of the iceberg:

_______________

LOGS1973 November 3, 2016

GT should handle the Tar Heels if Justin Thomas plays half as good as last Saturday. Jackets win by 14 .

Dogs in big trouble and lose to UK . . . .

LOGS1973October 6, 2016

. . . UGA wins a big 6 games this year.

LOGS1973 September 3, 2016

The Heels should boat race the Dawgs . . . .

Tar Heels should win big!

LOGS1973 August 4, 2016

GT will beat the overrated dogs by 21 points this year in Athens...

CrackerBox
CrackerBox

Has Matt Ryan returned his MVP Trophy yet?