Atlanta Falcons Loss a Strong Lesson in Humility
It was evident the Falcon`s defense lost their stamina and were physically depleted late in the game. This defensive depletion is analogous to the “rope-a-dope” strategy Mohamed Ali used against George Forman in the Zaire fight. Forman had Ali on the ropes while punishing Ali in the early rounds but he threw too many punches and lost his energy and the fight.
The Falcons were flying all over the field and stymied the Patriots offense.
Holding Brady and the Patriots to only 3 points in the first half was a credit to the Falcon`s speed and pass coverage. Atlanta was playing the more aggressive game and kept the Patriots off balance and unable to score.
The Patriots ran 42 plays in the first half for 215 yards but were only able to score a field at the end of first half. Both teams stalled drives in the first quarter was a standoff. The teams punted back and forth until the stripped ball fumble gave the Falcons possession in good field position to score the first touchdown. The Falcons offense scored another touchdown to make it 14 to 0. Brady then moved the offense until an exceptional read on a Brady pass resulted in a pick-six interception score and a 21 point lead. A last minute field goal by the Patriots prevented a first half shutout but they were trailing 21 to 3 at halftime.
The Falcons came out of halftime with another touchdown to make it 28 to 3. The game looked out of reach for the Patriots and Atlanta was just a field goal away from victory.
Being stuck on 28 points was the Falcons dreaded demise and ultimate defeat.
Fading in the stretch run is the mark of a tired horse. Atlanta ran a strong race but was a beat horse. They got run down in the stretch by the superior physical horse. Even the best athletes get tired when constant pressure is used to exhaust your body.
The Patriots controlled the time of possession and ran twice as many plays against a tiring Atlanta defense. The defense resorted to multiple consecutive holding penalties against the Patriot`s receivers who were wearing them out. All the 5 yard penalties and automatic first downs were a gift to Brady and the Patriots. It gave the Brady offense more time and more plays to score and force overtime.
The Atlanta Falcons were pressured on offense and being depleted on defense is a losing combination to overcome. A complete reversal of fortune for the upstart Falcons to feel the oncoming stampede in the overtime period. There was still a ray of hope but the snowball effect had reached a point of no return.
The Patriots were not to be denied. They came way back from an apparent Atlanta victory to emerge victorious as if they expected it all along. The true test of a championship caliber team is they can deal with adversity and push beyond the roadblocks to success. But you need some help along the way and Atlanta was a willing participant in the classroom of hard-knocks.
The Atlanta Falcons organization can regroup from this disaster if they learn from their player and coaching mistakes and to remove this blemish from their minds.
There is no perspective or justification for not finishing the job. A lesson in humility is a good thing but missed opportunities are rare and can haunt you and the memories we all live with.
Sure, it`s just a game but it mirrors our culture of winning and losing but —- life goes on!