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Old 02-06-2017, 12:58 PM   #1
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Default The second SB in a row handed to the Patriots

First Bill Cower hands the game to the Patriots, now this

What was Kyle Shanahan thinking?

By Michael Cunningham
February 6, 2017 | Filed in: ajc-sports.ajc, Atlanta Falcons, NFL

Everyone is a play-calling expert after the fact: a bad play call is one that didn’t work. But I’m not one to focus too much on specific play calls.

Offensive coordinators have a lot more information than me. Maybe the quarterback changed the call. Perhaps the defense showed an unexpected alignment. It could be that a player ran the wrong route or the center called the wrong protection.

Having said all of that . . .

What was Kyle Shanahan thinking?

Nine minutes left in the Super Bowl, with the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead, facing a third-and-one from their 36-yard line . . . Why did Shanahan opt to have Matt Ryan pass? Sure, Ryan was in the shotgun and took a five-step drop, but why even risk a calamity there?

The calamity happened when Dont’a Hightower hit Ryan and the Patriots recovered. The Patriots had played with little spirit up until that point. Tom Brady’s eyes lit up on the bench when he realized the Pats had the ball back and, well, you know what happened from there.

Did coach Dan Quinn second-guess that play call?

“When it doesn’t work, for sure,” Quinn said, before seemingly backing away. “But I don’t second-guess our play calling or wanting to throw it. Honestly, we’ve got terrific guys. We know how to matchup; we know hot go get open. That part of our game is so intact. The connection between Matt and (Julio Jones) and the guys—no I don’t (second guess).”

He should. There’s a time to be creative and aggressive, and there is a time to hand the ball off to Devonta Freeman, hope he gets a yard and, if he doesn’t, run some clock and punt. That time is when leading the Patriots 28-12 in the Super Bowl with nine minutes to play.

There is another time to hand it off to Freeman, or at the very least try a quick pass: When still leading the Pats, 28-20, with four minutes to play and the ball at New England’s 23-yard line. That’s chip-shot range for Matt Bryant. He makes it and the Falcons lead by two scores and little time left.

And yet: another shotgun snap, five-step drop by Ryan and another sack, this time by Trey Flowers on a jailbreak up the middle past Alex Mack.

“I wish I could have done a better job of trying to get rid of that ball,” Ryan said.

“I think (Shanahan) has a lot of faith in us to perform our job,” Mack said. “It’s disappointing not to be able to accomplish that.”

It’s true that the Falcons executed poorly on both of those plays. But those are the kind of possibilities to consider when trying to close out a Super Bowl victory. That is not the time to be too aggressive, especially when the running game with Freeman had been on point.

“Too aggressive? No,” Ryan said. “I thought Kyle did a good job. I thought we played the way that we play. We always play aggressive and play to win and we had opportunities as players.”

I’m thinking they would have had a better opportunity if they weren’t aggressive at the wrong times. Shanahan had an outstanding season running the Falcons; offense. There were times all year when he took smart chances that paid off.

This was not one of those times, and it happened in the biggest game of his life. What was Shanahan thinking?
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:06 PM   #2
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Shanahan absolutely blew it! Just like Seattle's OC did The game is over by just doing what you had been doing so sucessfully the entire game. But get cute and get beat!
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:16 PM   #3
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Last year, the Broncos had a 6 point lead in the 4th quarter with about 5 minutes left and faced a 3rd and 8. What did Manning do? Check to a run and punt the ball.
The Falcons had a 16 point lead and a 3rd and 1 with 8 minutes to play and they do the one thing that you just can't do in that situation.
Quinn is the head coach. He can always overrule Shanahan and decide what the play should be as well.
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Last edited by rspurr; 02-06-2017 at 03:00 PM..
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Old 02-06-2017, 02:56 PM   #4
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Popper... but the Pat's had the greatest comeback of all time! The NFL hates us! We never get any breaks!! I can't deal with NE fans. I'm so happy I don't live there anymore... I do miss Eagle60 though!!!
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