Super Bowl 51 didn’t disappoint. The New England Patriots didn’t just come from behind, they clawed their way back from the abyss to win their 5th Super Bowl. Tom Brady did Tom Brady things, being the first quarterback in NFL history to win 5 Super Bowl titles, Bill Belichick continued his brilliance, but the narrative coming after the game should be about the team in the losing locker room.
Yeah, the Atlanta Falcons.
Call it kicking a team when they are down, but this Falcons team deserves every boot to the stomach.
After storming out to a 25-point lead, no that isn’t a typo, they failed to score another point the remainder of the game. After a ridiculous Julio Jones catch along the sideline late in the fourth quarter, putting the team in field goal position, the Falcons refused to go to the ground game, settling for a field goal to extend their lead to two scores and killing the clock in the process, instead opted to go for a shotgun passing attack.
A devastating sack and holding penalty which forced the team to punt the ball back to Brady and the boys.
Instead of icing the game away, they gave the opposition hope, and the Patriots didn’t just win the game, they crushed their spirits.
The Atlanta defense who stifled and stymied the New England offense collapsed nearly as bad as their offense. When they weren’t able to get to Brady, they looked like a punch drunk boxer swinging wildly at the air, knowing the inevitable was near.
Was there any doubt the Patriots wouldn’t drive down the field and end the game when they won the coin toss to start overtime? I know I sure knew it was coming. The Falcons gave New England everything they had, and they looked as if they had nothing left. Especially when it mattered the most.
The 2016-2017 NFL season ended with a dramatic game. One which will be remembered for a lot of reasons. Many will point to Brady and Belichick’s brilliance, and rightfully so, but what will completely eat away at the Atalanta fan base will be the “what if”.
What if the play calling in the second half resembled more of the first half, and less of the questionable decisions which resulted in more punts than points. What if the team defense was able to knock the ball to the ground, and not allow Julian Edelman to make an incredible catch.
And so on, and so on...
There is always a winner and loser in every game, but for the Falcons, this loss is debilitating. Can they rebound? Only time will tell, but there is a reason why so many Super Bowl losers rarely even make the playoffs the following year.
The Patriots won, but the Falcons lost hard...really hard.