No schadenfreude in the Pats’ loss: They should’ve lost in February

Dazed and confused. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Seven writers for MMQB, SI.com’s pro football offshoot, made their Super Bowl picks this week. Five picked New England to return to the Super Bowl. Two picked the Patriots to repeat as champs. Two, it should be noted, tapped the Falcons to win a second consecutive NFC title, and only Jacob Feldman picked them to win this time. (Jenny Vrentas has them missing the playoffs; Peter King has them making it as a No. 6 seed.)

The point here isn’t to tut-tut about picks. (I’m the guy who picked Florida State to win the national championship. I’m also the guy who picked Georgia Tech over Tennessee.) The point is that the Patriots weren’t just seen as the NFL’s best team coming into the season — they were seen as the best by some distance. There was some talk, mostly on ESPN, that they might go undefeated. They won’t. They’re 0-1.

Falcons fans take delight in Patriots’ loss

As much as we’ve hammed on the Falcons for blowing the Super Bowl, what many seem to have missed was that the Patriots were one play from being not just beaten but embarrassed. Had the Falcons stopped a fourth-and-2 when it was 28-3, they’d have won 42-10. The Falcons’ sin wasn’t just to blow the biggest lead in Super Bowl history but to lost a game they had, for 42-plus minutes, absolutely dominated.

The Patriots opened their title defense against Kansas City and yielded, er, 42 points. Yes, they’re without Julian Edelman, but Gronk is back, and Gronk has long been Tom Brady’s go-to guy. Brady himself completed 16 of 36 passes in his first start after turning 40. Bill Belichick blamed the loss on “bad defense, bad coaching, bad playing, bad football.”

Not to make too fine a point of it, but those Four Bads had been on display on Feb. 5 in NRG Stadium. The Falcons had overwhelmed Belichick’s men, scoring on offense (with disdain) and even on defense (Robert Alford). The Patriots, as we know, have immortalized the epic comeback by engraving “28-3” in their championship rings and even flashed that partial score on the message board in Gillette Stadium on Thursday, but they wouldn’t have come back from anything had the Falcons not let them.

The trouble with sports — and sports writing, I concede — is that we ascribe retroactive inevitability to something that wasn’t anywhere near inevitable. The Patriots were not destined to win that Super Bowl. The Falcons had nearly run them out of town. When it was 28-3, Belichick and Brady weren’t composing victory speeches. They were just trying to get a first down. They were not unbeatable that day. On the contrary, they were one play from being routed.

They weren’t unbeatable then, and they’re once-beaten already. Give them credit for completing that Super comeback once it got going, but it should never have gotten going. Any Falcons fan — or player, or coach — who took glee from seeing the Pats lose to K.C. should have a rethink. Seven months ago, the Falcons could have and should have done the exact same thing.

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32 comments
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McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Still bitter I see. Well can't blame you. Pats are over rated and Falcons let that SB slip thru their hands.

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nyctraffic
nyctraffic

Ugggghghghghghghghgghgh!!!!   Damn Falcons!

moboman
moboman

Last night just underscores that the Pats are beatable.  Unfortunately we were good enough, but not SMART enough, to do it.  Hopefully we have addressed that aspect.

CrackerBox
CrackerBox

Not always the best team wins - saw this example with the GT loss the other night.  It happens, Bradley.  

Pounceman
Pounceman

Congrats Albert Wilson of Georgia State on your 5 catches and drive saving first downs and all of the Georgia HS & College players. T Hill, C Conley, R Wilson, E Ukeme (SMHS), J Houston, E Berry and anyone else I may have missed!

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

1) Nobody felt sorry for KC when their RB Ware was lost for the season a few weeks ago, so no pity for NE for Edelman


2) Watch the media move its obsession this week to whichever team wins the Seahawks/Packers matchup this week (hopefully Packers so we can run over them next week)

DuecePlay
DuecePlay

Atlanta---up 28-3, game under control. Biggest choke in the history of sports, not just football.

GTroller
GTroller

@AllanBC

Pure luck to get the game that way.  Pure luck to ever be there, to begin with.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@AllanBC Not hardly...Bills and Oilers playoff game back years ago....hope the cheaters lose every game.

GTroller
GTroller

Wrong.

You play that Superbowl 10 times and The Patriots win 9 of them.  The Falcons are a poor NFL team--- always have been, always will be.  Those pretenders didn't belong in that Superbowl and they hopefully will never luck their way back.  I wish they'd sell the whole franchise to Las Vegas and get them out of Atlanta.  The weekend traffic would certainly improve.

Go Jackets!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Hey, why the rag on Falcon fans? We don't play or have any control in the outcomes, we watch and follow teams for the entertainment value.

For the record, I was a Chiefs fan before there even were Falcons. And there was a revenge factor at play in that game for the Chiefs. So yeah, I took glee in the proceedings and outcome.

As for the Super Bowl, the Falcons simply weren't prepared to compete and finish a game at that level. Individual and collective unit weaknesses and failings were exposed, we all know what they were, we hope they are being addressed.

RonRoberts
RonRoberts

@DawgDadII Disagree; they were ready to compete ... they weren't mentally prepared for the early adrenaline rush to sap them of strength down the stretch.

GT71
GT71

MB, let it go.  And that goes for the rest of the doleful Falcon fans.  What is done, is done.  What is to come is unknowable (except to ACC computer modelers and other fake 'scientists').  Too many variables.

Take care of what is right in front of you and then move on.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

@GT71 For my own personal sports sanity, I've tried hard to let go of the Super Bowl.

But one thing struck me about last night: it's the second time in two games the Pats were abused by an able opponent.


The Chiefs finished the deal.  The Falcons?  We need to work on that.  

BFTech67
BFTech67

Fair enough but lights a bit brighter in Super Bowl....they had young defense that learned a lot I hope we get back because the team has the tools to succeed

samtown7
samtown7

Mark from this I take it you enjoy schadenfreude on the Falcon fans.

GT71
GT71

@WilliamBuchheit Facts and details are a no-no in AJC articles.  But thanks for reminding us of how little thought goes into sports stories on the good ol' AJC.

OH:IO
OH:IO

You've been near dogs too long.


shoulda woulda coulda