I hate Tom Brady.
I hate Bill Belichick.
I hate the New England Patriots.
I hate the fact that Tom Brady is so freaking good and comes up huge in big games. I am not looking forward to all of the GOAT talk that will invariably surround him from this day forward until he mercifully retires from the game. But the way he has been playing, that may not be for another five years or so.
I hate the fact that Bill Belichick is always so calm during the face of adversity. Granted, he came close to being unglued a few times in the first quarter but by the end of the first half, down 21-3, you could just see that he was going to come up with something to get back into the game.
His quarterback was getting hit, a pick-six interception was forced as well as a fumble. Just how good was it going for the Atlanta Falcons? Better than head coach Dan Quinn could have imagined.
In the third quarter, Atlanta thought they had put a strong nail in the coffin by going up 28-3. But New England came back and put six on the board. Normally reliable Steve Gostkowski went wide with the extra point. Personally, I thought that would have taken the wind out of the Patriots sails and lift Atlanta a bit. But that wasn’t the case.
The crucial turn in the game, for me was at 3:56 left to go in the fourth quarter. Atlanta was up 28-20 and driving from New England 23 yard line, second down and 11 yards for a first down. They were in good shape for a field goal, about a 33-35 yards away, well within the range for Falcon’s kicker Matt Bryant. One would think with the success Atlanta had running the ball, they would have kept it on the ground.
And for some damn reason, the Falcons choose to pass the ball. New England’s Trey Flowers dropped Falcons QB Matt Ryan for a 12-yard loss. Now it’s third down and 23 yards needed for a first down. Still within range for Matt Bryant from 47 yards out.
Again, they dropped back to pass and completed a nine yarder to Mohamed Sanu to give Bryant just a little more insurance. But a flag was thrown on the play for offensive holding on lineman Jake Matthews.
In two plays, the Atlanta Falcons went from 2nd down from the 23 yard line to 3rd down and 33 yards. From New England’s 23 yard line to New England’s 45 yard line, making a field goal attempt of 55-58 yards. Even indoors, I don’t think Matt Bryant has that kind of leg.
On third down, Matt Ryan threw an incomplete pass and the Falcons were forced to punt. And that was the ball game. From there, New England marched down the field to score and then made the 2 point conversion to tie the game at 28.
New England won the toss and in 3 minutes and 58 seconds in overtime, became the winners of Super Bowl LI.
There are two questions I have for the Atlanta Falcons:
- Why change the defensive strategy of going after Brady? Atlanta was getting to Brady often, getting him out of rhythm and making him throw when he didn’t want to. Later in the second half, Brady was barely touched as the Falcons chose to drop back in coverage and play a prevent defense. All that did was prevent them from winning the Super Bowl.
- Why didn’t you run the ball at 3:56 to stay within Matt Bryant’s range to make it a two score game? Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had run the ball effectively and had in fact, gotten into the Patriots secondary a few times.
If the Falcons would have stayed with the game plan of going after Brady, I’m convinced they would be the champs instead of New England. Yes, it is a tiring effect on the defense to chase the QB all the time. But when you have one of the best passers in the game on the ropes, you don’t let him get up. I would have even been OK if the Falcons had taken a couple of roughing the passer penalties if it would have caused Brady to be looking out of his ear hole of his helmet.
And giving up points is perhaps the worst thing a team can do. Those three points the Atlanta Falcons didn’t score when they were up 28-20 were the biggest three points they could have ever scored. It would have made it a 2 score game and even as hot as the Patriots were, I just don’t think they would have had the time to win it.
The Atlanta Falcons are a young team with an experienced QB who did fairly well on the big stage. And in the end, there were only two outcomes that could happen for them: Win or Lose, This time they lost but I believe there will be a next time for the Atlanta Falcons.
Dan Quinn has good scheme in place. And even though he will be losing Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shananhan, who will become head coach for San Francisco, he is getting another offensive wizard in Chip Kelly.
And yes, those gosh-darn New England Patriots (did I mention I hate these guys?) will also be in the mix yet again.
Remember, only 214 more days until the 2017 season begins!