By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In football, there are guys who get it, and there are guys who don’t.
It’s starting to look like Devonta Freeman may be in the latter group.
The running back this week added himself to the list of bewildered members of the Falcons organization who are still struggling to process the events of Feb. 5, 2017. He did so by … lamenting the fact that he stopped getting the football, thus robbing him of a Super Bowl MVP Award.
When questioned on that opinion due to Matt Ryan’s MVP-worthy performance, Freeman held his ground.
“I don’t want to make this no competition thing with me and my quarterback,” Freeman said. “I’m just talking about from based off that game. Let’s [put] it like this: if I would have kept getting the ball, if I would have stayed in the game, I don’t know why I got out of the game actually.
“But if I would have stayed in the game, I would have got MVP. I’m looking at my stats and I see my numbers didn’t lie. Look at my numbers.”
As noted by Yahoo’s Frank Schwab, it’s that comment about not knowing why he “got out of the game” that shows a real lack of understanding.
There was, you know, this whole thing:
That’s a horrific mistake to make in that moment. Had Freeman been able to merely stand in Dont’a Hightower’s way instead of giving him the olé, then Ryan would have likely connected on a wide-open long bomb to ice the game away.
Instead, the Patriots had the ball and a chance. And you know how that ended.
After the critical mistake, the Falcons did actually keep Freeman in the game, though that was because Tevin Coleman suffered an injury on the play prior to the strip sack. Freeman broke off a 39-yard reception to start the next drive when Elandon Roberts forgot to cover him, but then gained a total of 1 yard on his next two carries.
That Freeman is so concerned with his stats yet apparently blissfully unaware of his mistake which can be pointed to as the reason the Falcons lost the game should give the organization some pause to sliding that big-money contract across the conference table this summer.
Freeman said he doesn’t understand why he stopped getting the ball. That’s a problem. How could his coaches trust him after making such a key mistake.
Even Hightower was surprised at the lane he was given to Ryan.
“Honestly, it was not a complicated blitz,” Hightower said after the Patriots’ overtime win. “I guess Freeman didn’t see me outside.”
NFL Films caught Hightower’s reaction on the sideline, too: “The back had me. He didn’t see me because I was outside. So he looked and went. Yeah, he didn’t even see me.”
Freeman didn’t see Hightower that night in Houston, and he apparently still can’t see him. All he can see is “11 carries for 75 yards and 1 TD; 2 receptions for 46 yards” and a shiny MVP trophy he believes he deserves.
But just like Dan Quinn and Kyle Shanahan and Mohamed Sanu and Thomas Dimitroff, Freeman did say something that showed the mental anguish of blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl is not going to go away any time soon.
“It’s hard to move on from something like that,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever move on from something like that. To be honest, I think it’ll always play in the back of my head, just because I know, I feel like we’re going to get a Super Bowl this year. And I feel like this could have been two [in a row]. I could have been close to Tom Brady, you know what I mean? It’ll always play in the back of my head and the back of my mind.
“I feel like you can’t dwell on the things that went wrong. We’re going to always look at that game and say, ‘I wish I could have did this, I wish I could have did that.’ The next time, we’ll just make sure we seize the moment.”
Seizing the moment might start with blocking the linebacker. And worrying less about MVP trophies. Or being close to Tom Brady.
Just block the linebacker, man.