As I viewed the confetti slide right after the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl LII get above the New England Patriots, my brain was on 1 issue: This ought to have been the Atlanta Falcons previous year.
Occur on. No one but the Eagles them selves and possibly their fast families thought a Nick Foles-led team could complete what this squad did right after shedding Carson Wentz to a torn ACL at the tail end of his MVP campaign. They had been the underdogs of all underdogs, and they pulled off a tough-fought and nicely-deserved win. I respect the hell out of all of it.
But the 2016 Falcons? They experienced final year’s league MVP, Matt Ryan. They experienced one particular of the greatest receivers in the league in Julio Jones and a dynamic one particular-two punch in the backfield with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Atlanta led the whole NFL in scoring with almost 34 details per sport and were 2nd in the league in overall offense. Kyle Shanahan was often two measures forward, finding aside practically every single defense the Falcons confronted.
Previous year’s Falcons defense was not fairly as excellent as this season’s, but they have been scrappy and opportunistic. They sacked Russell Wilson three instances and picked him off twice in Atlanta’s 36-20 divisional win in excess of the Seahawks last year. They ran away with the NFC Championship from the Packers, making it possible for Aaron Rodgers and the Environmentally friendly Bay offense to convert just 4 of ten 3rd down makes an attempt all working day in a 44-21 beatdown.
And even in the Super Bowl, it seemed like the Falcons experienced the Patriots outclassed and outmatched … until all of a sudden they did not. That is the part Atlanta enthusiasts are still battling to come to terms with.
The Falcons are not the only crew to fall a near heartbreaker to the Patriots. All 5 of New England’s Tremendous Bowl wins — over the Falcons, Seahawks, Eagles, Panthers, and Rams — have been made the decision by 6 details or fewer.
But the decline to the Eagles was a forty one-33 margin. That’s something teams can not typically pull off from the Patriots. Even New England’s two losses to the Giants in the Monthly bill Belichick and Tom Brady period have been received by 4 and 3 factors, respectively.
So what did the Eagles do otherwise?
If the Falcons defense could have stopped the Patriots on just one particular of their landing drives or successful two-point conversions in the next fifty percent, they’d have a Lombardi Trophy. When Philly necessary its protection to stage up and get it done in the fourth quarter, they sacked Brady, compelled a fumble, and recovered it to reduce off one of his signature late-match playoff comebacks.
Make no blunder about it: Brady was breathtaking. He threw for in excess of five hundred yards and three touchdowns with no picks. But when the defense actually experienced to gradual him down, Eagles defensive conclude Brandon Graham busted by means of the Patriots’ blockers to get him down, jarring the ball unfastened in the approach. Derek Barnett recovered.
“Tom Brady’s arm just transpired to be there and I swiped,” Graham said after the recreation. “I was just so grateful to be capable to make that perform to get us off the subject and modify the match.”
Atlanta’s protection manufactured performs from Brady and the Pats in Super Bowl LI. They sacked Brady five — 5 — times, forced a LeGarrette Blount fumble, and Robert Alford ran the a single decide Brady threw back again 82 yards for a touchdown. But there was one other massive difference between the Eagles’ sport strategy towards the Patriots and what the Falcons did very last calendar year.
The Eagles balanced currently being intense with actively playing intelligent
You cannot conquer the Patriots by heading totally conservative with a lead. Just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars, who missing the AFC Championship to New England by doing specifically that. Doug Pederson evidently will get it.
Pederson held his foot on the gas. Contacting a trick play with a restricted end passing to your quarterback on fourth-and-goal from the Patriots’ one-yard line is generally the definition of aggressive. Which is some true Saints-style, “let’s open up the second fifty percent of a Tremendous Bowl with an onside kick” stage shit.
Using a danger to extend a 15-twelve direct in excess of New England with 1:30 remaining in the 50 % does not have a ton of downside. The Eagles ended up possibly going to increase their direct to ten factors or they have been heading to give New England the ball on their possess one-lawn line, believe in the protection, and know there was nonetheless an total 50 % to perform.
You have to be prepared to consider some calculated hazards to beat New England. But that does not imply groups can totally abandon situational football totally, which is what the Falcons did when it counted.
Top by eight points with underneath five minutes to play, and obtaining already blown 17 points of that 25-position direct they’d banked, the Falcons found by themselves on the Patriots’ 22-lawn line. The smart play here is this: You run the dang ball. You have a kicker, Matt Bryant, who strike every single solitary a single of his makes an attempt from that range. If he hits 3, you’ve obtained an 11 point guide and a great deal a lot more stress on the Patriots whilst time is ticking.
What did they do? They ran the dang ball … on initial down. Devonta Freeman missing a property, but it took 44 seconds off the clock, which was a constructive. Then Shanahan called a move perform. Ryan took a sack for a decline of 12 yards, and all of a sudden that area aim isn’t hunting like very as much of a chip shot. On 3rd down, a devastating holding contact against left tackle Jake Matthews pushed the Falcons completely out of field-objective assortment, and they experienced to punt.
Why didn’t they operate the ball? Shanahan stated it was since they have been “trying to score.” But they could have scored 3 and given on their own a a lot greater shot at a win.
The Eagles had been in a similar situation, major 38-33 with just in excess of two minutes remaining. The protection experienced just pressured that fumble on Brady, offering Philly the ball back again on the Patriots’ 31-yard line. What did Pederson do? He did not get cute. Foles handed the ball off to Blount a few instances in a row, and Nick Elliott kicked a forty six-yarder to give the Eagles the forty one-33 lead they carried to the conclude of the recreation.
It’s good to be aggressive. It’s not Ok to be intense when the risk clearly outweighed the reward provided the conditions.
How do Falcons supporters feel about the Eagles’ win?
Dave Choate, the editor-in-chief of SB Nation’s Falcons site, the Falcoholic, said the Patriots’ reduction on Sunday could have truly manufactured it tougher for him to offer with the Super Bowl LI scenario, primarily simply because he wonders where the hell these Patriots were when the Falcons performed them.
Seeing the Eagles dispatch the Patriots in the Tremendous Bowl, I guess I must have felt schadenfreude or unbridled delight over the Patriots getting rid of, especially because I reside in New England. Largely, although, I was pissed.
Why did Invoice Belichick not contact for an over-the-shoulder go to Tom Brady in Tremendous Bowl LI? Why did he not sit Malcolm Butler for some purpose? Why did Matt Patricia not place jointly a defensive gameplan that could be summed up as beardedly lackluster? Why?
I really don’t have an reply to any of those inquiries, but I dislike that I’ll be asking them for the rest of my daily life. It was wonderful to see the Patriots shed, but it may have in fact manufactured things even worse for Falcons fans.
Last 12 months, I watched the Tremendous Bowl at the same spot I observed the Eagles beat the Patriots: in SB Nation’s places of work in Washington, D.C. I somehow acquired by means of the loss, with some ethical support from my buddy, colleague, and fellow Falcons admirer Harry Lyles Jr. Then I drank some boxed wine and went back again to my hotel and listened to truly terrible, unfortunate break up songs and might have cried a small till I finally fell asleep. It sucked.
This yr, properly, it wasn’t as negative. I appreciated viewing the Patriots lose. I felt a minor vindicated.
I did not always want the Eagles to get. It does not adjust anything at all. But I am a small bitter about the truth the Eagles proved the Patriots are beatable, and the Falcons blew their possibility to ultimately carry home a Lombardi Trophy previous year.