Matt Ryan, Falcons Fall Just Short of Super Bowl
It's been a tough few months for sports fans in the state of Georgia. The Braves were the victim of an infield fly rule call that boggled the minds of everyone who isn't a St Louis Cardinals fan. The Georgia Bulldogs came up four yards short of going to the National Championship Game. Finally, the Atlanta Falcons lost a big first half lead and fell four points and fifteen yards short of going to the Super Bowl.
The Falcons were very prepared for this game. They came out and rode Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to a 17-0 lead. The Falcons clicked on both sides of the football. For a short while, it seemed like the Falcons could do no wrong. It was eerily like the Seattle Seahawks game.
Much like the Seahawks game, all good things came to an end and the Falcons struggled on both sides of the football in the second half. The ability, or inability, to cover the tight end position, which we covered here before the game, became a huge factor. While the Falcons were very prepared for this game, I was disappointed by the inability to make in-game adjustments to the game plan. The coaching staff does a fantastic job of prepping for game (as referenced in quick starts in both of our playoff games) but they have to get better this off-season at learning how to make the critical in-game adjustments that almost cost them against the Seahawks and did cost them against the Niners.
The Falcons went down by four points late in the game and had one drive (I'm not going to count where we got the ball back with six seconds) to win the game. The Falcons drove the ball 70 yards down the field but came up short on a 4th and 4 play where Roddy White was getting ridden by the defensive player in coverage. There was no call and even though the game wasn't technically over, that play signified the end of our season. It should also be noted that Matt Ryan took a big hit on this drive and was noticeably holding his shoulder as he continued to attempt to play hurt.
It was a tough break. While the Falcons are a flawed team (aren't all teams?) they played hard and they never gave up even when they gave up the lead. When you look back at the season (13-3 regular season capped by a playoff win against Seattle), it was a great season and the Falcons did take a step forward from where they were last year but it still hurts especially when you come up just fifteen yards short of a trip to the Super Bowl.
Get more great Atlanta Falcons analysis over at The Grits Blitz.