Tom Brady & Patriots’ Experience Beats Falcons’ Regular-Season Mentality
For three and a half quarters, the coaches and players had a vice grip on the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons had a Super Bowl championship within their grasp.
Then they loosened the it and lost the game, 34-28, the only Super Bowl to be decided in overtime.
They loosened it by getting too cute. By throwing he ball when running it would have run out the clock. Leading 28-12 with eight minutes to play, they passed on a second-and-one. Matt Ryan was sacked, fumbled and that was all New England and Tom Brady needed to start the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Then they threw it again with a little more than three minutes to go; quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked then a holding penalty pushed them further back, all the way out of field goal range.
You see, New England not just won the Super Bowl, but Atlanta lost it. Experience played the key factor here – the Falcons coaches simply did what they usually do, but this was the Super Bowl. And that was New England on the other side of the field. And that was Tom Brady quarterbacking that team on the other side of the field.
Experience would have told them to hold back their urge to pass, to play to the situation.
They of course know that Brady is an incredible competitor and if he seeks a peek of daylight coming from behind a previously-closed door, he’s going to first pry it open, then kick is out of his way. But without that critical Super Bowl experience, the coaches went with their regular-season mentality when they needed a Super Bowl mentality.
A 16-point lead with eight minutes to play is not safe as long as Brady is in a huddle. You don’t need to give him an opportunity – any opportunity – to come back and beat you. Yet the Falcons’ coaches did, and now about the only highlights of the game they are likely to watch are those of Lady Gaga’s halftime show.
Give Brady a chance, a sliver of opportunity, to win a Super Bowl and he’s going to make one heck of a run at it. It’s like holding back a flood in a sinking ship – you just can’t do it forever. Here, Atlanta’s defense not only got tired, it started to lose confidence.
Had the Falcons run the ball on those critical plays then Atlanta would be celebrating its first Super Bowl title. Instead, the team, the fans and the city are wondering what just happened to them.