Friday, February 10, 2017

My Sh*tty Super Bowl Sunday: Part 4

As someone who has been known on more than one occasion to rudely interrupt and say "please get to the point," I've certainly taken the long route in getting to mine which was originally that I hate the Patriots and therefore Super Bowl Sunday sucked. All of that other crap I wrote about was just normal day to day bullshit but, when you look back on it through the prism of the Patriots historic comeback victory, it rises to a higher level of suckiness.

It wasn't just that the Patriots won of course, it was the way they won. It's the way they so often win by taking advantage of their opponent going completely fucking brain dead with the game on the line. Whether it be Billy Cundiff missing a 32 yard field goal in the AFC Championship Game, the Eagles basically running the clock out on themselves in Super Bowl XXXIX or the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX throwing the ball into the middle of the field on second and goal from the one yard line with one of the best short yardage running backs and most mobile quarterbacks in the game. I'm not going to call the Patriots lucky because that's loser talk but let's just say that they've benefited from a few generous opponents. Cue the Falcons.

Wouldn't be the FGR
without this either.
No need to waste our collective time on all of the plays the Falcons had to botch to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Lord knows they've been dissected and discussed enough this week but I do want to look at one aspect of the Falcons' collapse that hasn't really gotten the attention it deserves. We'll also throw-in a couple of personal anecdotes as it wouldn't really be the FGR without those. For the sake of keeping this in order and so I don't have to think of words to connect my paragraphs, we're going timeline style and switching to the present tense - let's pick it up in the second quarter:

Second Quarter


2:21 - Tom Brady throws an interception that Atlanta's Robert Alford returns 82 yards for a touchdown. During the return, Brady makes what appears to be an attempt to tackle Alford and ends-up face down on the ground in a pose of defeat. Who knew that the Falcons would later rob us from the joy of seeing that image in perpetuity? At this point, my friend who hates the Patriots but loves gin begins tearing into my friend from Massachusetts via group text (yes I have two friends). Years of Patriots loathing was just coursing through the phones of everyone involved. Unfortunately, he wasn't just touching the money. He was cupping its balls. I remember getting a sudden chill as I envisioned Satan's dumb nephew Roger Goodell handing the trophy to God's spoiled grandson Robert Kraft.     


0:23 - The Patriots are driving for their first score of the game and call timeout. It's around this time that Yellow Tail proves their mettle as a major player in the cheap wine market with what I assume is their first Super Bowl ad. Look, as far as I know there are three kinds of wine: (1) good wine, (2) cheap drinkable win and (3) swill. I've had Yellow Tail and I can tell you that it rates near the bottom of category (3) which is why I tweeted the following:
(I assume quoting your own tweet is bad form but fuck it, I cracked myself up with that one). If we're good at nothing else here at the FGR, it's killing potential sponsor opportunities.
  
Third Quarter

Here's where we get to the underrated part of the Falcons' incompetence. 


12:57 - The Falcons are up 21-3 and they just declined an offensive pass interference penalty to make it 3rd and 12 for the Patriots from the New England 47 yard line. At this point, they decide to use their FIRST TIMEOUT. Huh? The third quarter just freakin' started. Half of America doesn't even know the game is back on yet. It's either going to be 2nd and 22 if you accept the penalty or 3rd and 12 if you decline it. Pretty sure you're running the same or very similar defenses under either scenario. Not to mention, no one calls timeout on defense unless they're trying to stop the clock at the end of the game (well, no one except the Browns). Can someone please get a note to Coach Quinn that second half timeouts are like gold?

0:59 - On 2nd and 1 at the New England 32 yard line, Tevin Coleman is tackled for a one yard loss and Jake "The Strangler" Matthews is called for holding. So now it's 2nd and 11 from the New England 42 yard line and the Falcons call their SECOND TIMEOUT. You were the highest scoring team in the league and you don't have a 2nd and 11 play cued-up on the turntable? Here's an idea. Throw it to Julio Jones. Or hand it to one of your running backs who are averaging five yards per carry. Oh wait I forgot. You've got a 19 point lead with just over a quarter to play so you're trying to make the game last longer? I guess you want to savor it like a glass of 2017 Yellow Tail Merlot. Hey Coach Quinn, just a heads-up that you now have more nostrils than timeouts. 


Fourth Quarter  


3:56 - I need two quick paragraphs about the play that probably cost the Falcons the game. They have the ball 2nd and 11 at the New England 23 yard line which would be a 40 yard field goal for their kicker who made 37 out of 40 this year. The entire mission of the Patriots' defense at that point (other than creating a turnover) is to move the line of scrimmage back 10-15 yards to make the kick harder. The entire mission of the Falcons offense is to (a) not have the line of scrimmage move back and (b) run the clock down so, if they do kick the field goal, Tom Brady has less time to score twice.

So what do they do? They start with Matt Ryan five yards behind the line of scrimmage in the shotgun. Then he takes the snap and drops back seven more yards. THAT'S THE DIRECTION THE OTHER TEAM WANTS YOU TO GO YOU MORONS!!! I defy you to come-up with a worse play call in the history of championship games in any sport. The only comparable scenario I can think of from another sport would be a baseball team in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game with no one out and the bases load playing the infield back for the double play thereby conceding the winning run.

Time to start getting our damn
priorities back in order.
3:50 - Now the Falcons are on the 35 yard line - still well within, but at about the limit of, field goal range for a good NFL kicker like Matt Bryant. Whatever you do Atlanta . . . don't go backwards again. Cue Jake "The Strangler" Matthews for his second holding penalty. You know what happens next. Incomplete pass . . . punt . . . Brady . . . shit. 

2:28 - This is the Edelman catch which was unbelievable but what was lost in the hoopla that surrounded it was that the Falcons challenged the call even though the first replay showed it was obviously a catch. They lost the challenge and with it, their THIRD AND FINAL TIMEOUT. In that situation, you almost hope that Quinn didn't know he was jeopardizing his last timeout when he threw the challenge flag because that would be more defensible than flushing it. 

0:52 - Matt Ryan gets the ball back at his own 11 yard line with 52 seconds left. If he has timeouts left, he can throw the ball in the middle of the field and get the chunks of yardage he needs to get into field goal range but, without them, he has to waste a down with a spike and his last pass was a weak incompletion to the sideline. They didn't even manage that right as they gave the ball back to the Patriots in time for them to run one last play.

Overtime

When they did the coin flip for overtime, one quarterback was at the middle of the field while the other one was on the bench, presumably using the time to get ready. I'll let you guess which was which. And in the final cruel irony, each team gets two timeouts to start overtime. As Brady shredded an exhausted Falcons defense which would end-up being on the field for 93 plays (compared to 46 for the Patriots defense), guess what Coach Quinn did with his two timeouts. Yup. He sat on them. Maybe he wanted to keep them as souvenirs.

The fucking end.

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