By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is well into his preparation for the 2017 season as he desperately tries to move on from the Falcons’ stunning loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. It apparently took a while for the coach to move on from the defeat, which he watched repeatedly in the weeks following the game.
The Super Bowl binge-watching may be over for Quinn, but the sting of that loss will linger for him and the team forever. It will certainly be there until he can get the Falcons back to the Super Bowl, if that ever happens. But if Quinn wants to increase his team’s chances of winning next time, he may want to admit how big of a role he played in the loss.
A new feature story by SI’s Greg Bishop chronicles Quinn’s arrival in Atlanta to coach the Falcons through Super Bowl LI and his efforts to put his team’s devastating collapse in the past. Quinn’s share of the blame pie for the Falcons’ Super Bowl loss goes mostly to a fourth-quarter sequence in which the Falcons, up by eight points with under four minutes left, could have sat on the ball, bled the clock, and kicked a field goal to virtually ice the win.
Quinn instead let offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan call two passing plays, one of which resulted in a Trey Flowers sack and the other a holding penalty by left tackle Jake Matthews. The Falcons stumbled out of field goal range, punted back to Tom Brady and the Patriots, and you know what happened from there.
The Falcons surely had plenty of chances to stop the Patriots after that fateful sequence, but that series was easily the most egregious coaching misstep of the game and the moment you could point to in determining where the Falcons truly blew the game.
Quinn refuses to admit that he failed in that spot.
“We still had an eight-point lead,” said Quinn. We could have stopped them on defense. They didn’t have to get the two-point conversion. … The game was not won or lost on that [sequence]. That’s important to note.”
No, the game was not specifically lost directly on those particular plays. But that’s like saying the Patriots’ 2001 AFC Divisional win over the Raiders had nothing to do with the Tuck Rule. Of course those plays had a major impact on the game. If Quinn did the smart thing in that moment, which would have been to run the ball and kick a field goal, Julian Edelman’s catch may never happen and the Falcons likely win the game.
But they did not win. And it was due in large part to the failures of the Falcons’ play-calling in that particular series. Quinn may be saying that he’s on to 2017, but until he can admit he screwed up when his team needed him the most, he may never truly get over it.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.