The Falcons will be haunted by the late-game play calls of now departed offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan at the end of Sunday night’s Super Bowl.
He helped turn a (28-12) lead into the devastating late game loss.
The Falcons had the ball 3rd-and-1 at their own 35-yard line with 8-minutes left in the game. They had run he ball effectively thru out. Shanahan called a pass play when he got isolated coverage, instead of a power run that would have gotten Atlanta a first down, and kept the clock going.
Matt Ryan took a sack, fumbled the ball, and gave the Pats short field position. Tom Brady took New England in for a score, and it was (28-20) with 6-minutes left.
Atlanta came right back throwing on the next possession, hitting Julio Jones on a spectacular deep sideline catch. Then with the ball deep in Pats territory, Shanahan did it again.
Line of scrimmage the New England 22, he didn’t run it with 4-minutes to go, already in field goal range. He came out throwing again. Incompletion….quarterberback sack…then holding call. All of a sudden, out of field goal range, it was 3rd and 33, incomplete pass then punt. Moments before he could have had a 3-pointer, that would have built an 11-point lead with two minutes to go.
New England would have never comeback from two scores down with 2-minutes to go, and probably would have had to burn their timeouts up to preserve the clock.
Instead Brady engineered the 91-yard game tying TD drive to tie it, and bring on overtime.
Yes the Pats QB had to make some huge throws, and Julian Edelman had the catch of a lifetime to aid the drive, but none of that could have had happened, if Shanahan had done things differently.
The Falcons said it was all about being aggressive. But not at that time, nor that place.
New England had been blitzing, Atlanta had not been protecting. Why expose Ryan even further, when running the ball, draining the clock, using the Pats time outs would have been the right thing to do?
Sure it’s so-called Monday morning second guessing. But the Pats would never have gotten the time off the clock back, had Atlanta put the ball into the hands of either Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman. Runs that could have gotten a first down, definitely would have marched time off the scoreboard clock.
The (28-3) deficit was gone. The game wound up being tied. Overtime came and went on one possession. The Pats got the trophy, the Falcons got a loss that will hang over them all off season.
Shanahan got on a plane and flew to San Francisco to begin his job as the 49ers head coach.
Should have been an Atlanta win, wound up as a gruesome Falcons loss.
Smart guy, this offensive coordinator. Stupid call by the soon to depart play caller.
Atlanta’s fine season ruined by the outgoing assistant coach. It won’t show up on his resume. It will however be stapled to the hearts of Falcons players and fans forever.
Smart guy coordinator…stupid play calls….stunning and sad ending. Victory turned into defeat.