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New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl 51: Epic Comeback OR Colossal Collapse?
Super Bowl 51 is in the books. It was one of the most entertaining Super Bowls in modern history. It even outshone the Puppy Bowl, which if you know me is pretty high praise (although Lucky the 3-legged dog is no joke). Anyway you will be hearing about this Super Bowl all summer and then the beginning of next football season, and then through the next football season, and then…well you get the point.
It will be hammered into your head how completely, utterly awesome Tom Brady is. Then you will be told how Brady orchestrated the single best comeback in Super Bowl history (that’s true…sort of), and then you will be asked to reflect on how much the New England Patriots had to overcome just to get to the Super Bowl, and then…well you get the point.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a great game, but was it so much of an epic comeback by the Patriots or a colossal collapse by the Atlanta Falcons? Hold on Patriots fanatics and Brady sycophants hear me out:
7. The Atlanta Falcons were leading 28-3 in the third quarter. They were averaging 5.8 rushing yards a game. Now, I am no offensive coordinator but even I know if there is a chance, no matter how small that Brady could orchestrate a comeback, the best thing to do would be to keep him on the sidelines.
Instead while leading 28-3, the Falcons decided to have four rushing plays and 11 passing plays out of the 15 plays the Patriots defense allowed. 11-of-15 of their plays were passing plays. I completely understand sticking with your identity. I also know that 5.8 average rushing yards per game isn’t a shape shifting identity thief.
6. Speaking of which, this is the first game of the season that the Falcons went without a second half rushing touchdown. S it appears that a) some of their identity did lie in the legs of the running backs; and b) that this was not really the right time of the season to pull out that stat.
5. Devonta Freeman rushed 11 times for 75 yards and a touchdown. If you saw him the first half you know he was legit, the way he was eating up those yards and the Patriots defense. Flash forward second half; Freeman had five rushes for four yards. He also had a glaring missed blocking assignment that led to the sack of quarterback Matt Ryan.
4. With 3:56 seconds left in the game, Ryan was sacked for a loss of 12 yards on a second and eleven. This particular sack took the Falcons out of field goal range. A field goal which would have made it a two possession game.
3. The very next play, Ryan completed a pass of nine yards to Mohamed Sanu. The completion put them back in field goal range…but wait left tackle Jake Matthews was called for a hold. The Falcons punted. And you know the rest.
2. Patriots ran 47 more offensive plays than the Falcons. The number was 93 offensive plays for the Patriots and 46 offensive plays for the Falcons. I get it, quick strike offense of the Falcons and all that. But think of the toll it took on the Falcons’ defense. Yes, the Patriots scored 19 points in the fourth quarter. But maybe if the Falcons offense stayed on the field a little while longer, less plays for the Patriots offense, more rest Falcons defense. It make sense, no?
1. Speaking of offense, Julio Jones was targeted FOUR times for FOUR receptions. I get it…I get it, Coach Belichick is a master at taking away an opponents best weapon. In Super Bowl 51 that would be Jones. But let me repeat this, Jones was targeted four times. FOUR TIMES. He came away with four receptions and 87 yards. And if you witnessed any of his receptions you would know taking him out of the game plan wasn’t an option, unless your name is Kyle Shanahan. Jones was a man among boys. Unfortunately, he was only targeted four times. By the way, four times in his fewest target total since 2011.
It wasn’t just the play calling, It was Ryan taking a sack instead of dumping the ball off. It was Matthews being flagged for a holding call, negating positive yardage when they needed it the most. It was a defense team that had to defend 93 offensive plays while their offense could only manage 46. It was questionable clock management in the second half. It was an offensive coordinator who didn’t adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. In the end it was a collapse for the ages that was taken advantage of by a very good team.
So maybe it was an epic comeback greatly aided by a colossal collapse?
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