The Falcons choke job

With 4:40 to go in the fourth quarter, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots knew the game was, for all intents and purposes, over.

When Matt Ryan found Julio Jones on what could be the most skilled catch in Super Bowl history, the Falcons had gained a first down and were sitting in moderate field goal range with a chance to go up 11 points.

Instead of running it twice and kicking a field goal, Dan Quinn allows Kyle Shanahan to call a pass play on 2nd-down. The NFL MVP is sacked. On 3rd-down, a holding penalty knocks them completely out of field goal range.

This sequence is the worst playcalling job in the history of the NFL’s biggest game.


All Atlanta needed to do was run it twice and allow Matt Bryant an opportunity to ice the game.

Obviously, we know what happened.

Tom Brady and the Pats were granted a gift from the football gods and capitalized.

Even still, this wasn’t all. On the previous drive, on a 3rd-and-1, Shanahan called a pass play with no backs. This one led to the Dont’a Hightower strip sack, injecting life into the dead Pats who were down 16 at the time.

When your defense had been on the field as much as the Falcons had witnessed, you do not pass the ball in that situation. You run it and allow your two talented backs and impressive offensive line to get the job done.

87 plays to 46 plays is the reason Tom Brady was able to mount that impressive comeback. Previously, he was dominated by Quinn’s aggressive style of defense and his O-line was thrown around. Brady couldn’t complete a pass past 15-yards if his life relied on it. That’s what Quinn was doing, playing 10 along the line of scrimmage with a single-high safety and daring No. 12 to attack downfield.

Taking situation and math (including time and opportunity), the way the Falcons played the end of this game is embarrassing. It makes you wonder how they even won the NFC.

Complete luck is the reason New England was in the position that allowed its greatness to capitalize. Usually, Super Bowl teams don’t allow that to happen, under any circumstance.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com