For Falcon fans, that’s about as awful as it can get. A slow motion choke for the ages. There’s no solace in the fact that you got done in by the game’s greatest assassin. Nope. You blew it.
As I talked about on my show last week, the Super Bowl creates permanence. What happens on that stage, lasts a lifetime… and well beyond. For those who are graced with glory, it’s a wonderful thing. For the less fortunate, a curse.
Julian Edelman will cradle that ball just an inch above the turf while getting kicked in the face… for eternity. That ball shall never hit the ground. Dont’a Hightower will crash into Matt Ryan’s arm at the perfect possible moment to force a fumble, not an incompletion…. for all eternity.
And the Falcons might well not return to this game for 20 years. Sure, they look like they are set-up to be good for a long run. But so was Carolina last year. Recent history has been especially cruel to the loser of this game in the immediate aftermath.
To second guess the Boy Wonder, Kyle Shanahan, on his playcalling is not just fair, but necessary. For a sharp young man who got so much hype prior to this game, an equal amount of “what-were-you-thinking” scorn is merited while the ashes smolder.
To run the ball twice for 9 yards, then set-up a deep drop passing play on 3rd and 1 is criminally brainless. Then, having had the chance to see your life flash before your eyes and still be alive, to call two more deep drop pass plays after the Julio Jones catch had basically iced the game, and watch a sack and a holding call push you out of Matt Bryant’s range?
Thanks, kid. Good work. Enjoy San Francisco.
As somebody said: Kyle lost his backpack on Monday, and his brain on Sunday.
It didn’t take long for the “Fair”-ies in sports to start bellyaching about how Atlanta lost the coin-toss, then lost the game. Wah! Unfair! Never mind that nobody was saying before this SuperBowl (or any of them, since the OT rules were changed once to make them “more fair”) “hey, we need to fix this SuperBowl overtime, because somebody is going to lose an eye!”
Nah. Typical of today’s mood in this country, it was a meek little after-the-fact “wah, wah…” from a few. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk – whom I am increasingly mistaking for being smarter than he really is – was quick to rush out a thought that somehow the Patriots win “felt incomplete.” Whatever.
For the last time: These are GAMES, people. Not life and death. You had 60 minutes of “fair” – at some point it comes time to decide the game. It’s that simple. I actually do NOT think that baseball’s endless games, or hockey’s marathon contests in the Stanley Cup playoffs are anything to brag about. I think they are stupid. Who wants to endure a “double-game” just because to adhering to some old-school romanticism. In baseball I’d make it next-run-wins after the 10th. In hockey, I would have 4-on-4 in the 2nd overtime. And no, I’m not crazy. You are!
I actually saw some people on my timeline complain: “How come the Patriots got to call BOTH coin flips!” Really? Who cares? Do they have some clairvoyance about which way a coin is going to fall? IT DOESN’T MATTER!
Then there were people honestly upset that the referees called pass interference on the would-be Martellus Bennett touchdown pass in overtime. Yes, they really thought that call should not be made, only because of the time and circumstance in the game!
This is the kind of nonsense thinking that had man-child Travis Kelce calling out the same Carl Cheffers for daring to call a hold on the Chiefs’ would-be game-tying 2-point conversion.
In truth, Cheffers and his crew were brilliant last night. Aside from the sideline mistake on the Amendola punt return, they just about nailed every bang-bang play in real time, without the need for replay. From an early Matt Ryan sack that might have been a fumble, to the James White touchdown to win the game, they were absolutely dialed in. Just remember this, when you start agitating for full time refs. There’s nobody better in the world than these guys. And making them quit their other jobs, won’t make them any better.
The handshake with Tom Brady went down pretty much like I expected. Brady took the high road, and followed through with more high road on Monday morning. Brady is smart, even if you think he’s a cheat. Brady knows about permanence in sports and his own image. What might have felt good at the time, might look clunky and cheap in the years to follow.
Besides, the tsunami of boos Goodell was drowned in while on stage, was all that history needed to record in that moment. It was amazing. And fitting. As somebody wrote last week, EVERY sports fan should root for Brady against Goodell. It’s represents the victory of a talented, athletic genius who has earned his position in the sporting firmament through hard work and perseverance.
Goodell meanwhile, is a talentless bureaucrat, whose biggest accomplishment was being born a Senator’s son. There’s only one Tom Brady in the entire world, and now nobody can argue there’s been anybody better. Yet there are not just 1,000 would-be Goodell’s out there, but at least 1,000 more who would be a marked improvement.
My only wish was that Bob Kraft had taken that podium moment to tell Goodell – the lying coward who said this week he was waiting for an invitation to return to Foxboro – “… and we’ll see you in September at our place, when we raise the banner!”
GAGA: If you like her, that show was a home run. A masterful piece of stagecraft, and a nice clean performance. I’m sorta “Meh+” on her as an artist. I appreciate her genuine musical chops – far beyond pop avatars like Katy Perry – and her legendary ability to write a good musical “hook” for modern pop songs. But I only like a few of her songs (Applause, Edge of Glory, Perfect Illusion) and she didn’t play any of them. Oh well.
FOX: As I mentioned right away on Twitter, it was an absolute joy to see the game uncluttered by a bottom-of-the-screen crawl showing scores or – worse – fantasy stats. A joy! Joe Buck was great – a point hammered home by Phil Mushnick. But still lacking, was a sharp color man to point out in real time that the Falcons were blowing it by calling risky pass plays when they could just run the ball, and close out the game. Troy Aikman admitted this week that he has no memory of the 1994 NFC Championship game because of a concussion, yet we are left to believe as an audience that he retains top-flight mental faculties to analyze a game un-affected? Please.
BELICHICK: The guy is a certified weirdo. Example: going out of his way to find a Patriots blue pullover that has NO logos whatsoever. What? But he’s also the modern Lombardi. He’s so good, at everything required of a modern NFL head coach, it’s a joke. James White was a 4th round pick out of Wisconsin. He arguably should have been the MVP. Belichick finds talent. Develops talent. Deploys talent. And he creates a culture of “buy in, or get out” that is un-matched in a league full of “me-firsters.” That said, enjoy the rare relaxed Belichick he let out with Berman and Co. on the ESPN set after the game.