BOSTON (CBS) — The Super Bowl is the biggest game in sports, and so whenever a team loses in historically tragic fashion, it’s not something that team is going to be able to get over for a very long time.
Nevertheless, time stops for nobody, so when it comes to the Atlanta Falcons, they’d all be best-served to move on as fast as possible.
Part of that process has been talking at length about the Super Bowl collapse to the Patriots, generally spun as a learning moment that will make the Falcons stronger in the future. As the Seattle Seahawks can attest, making those claims and proving them are two very different tasks.
Yet the most recent member of the Falcons to speak extensively about the painful Super Bowl memories was quarterback Matt Ryan, the reigning league MVP who thought he and his teammates had the game wrapped up in the fourth quarter.
“We made the play to win the Super Bowl to Julio,” Ryan said in an exclusive interview with Pete Prisco.
The catch Ryan references set up the Falcons with a first-and-10 from the New England 22-yard line, leading by eight, with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons could have run it up the gut three times, kicked the field goal, gone up by 11 points, and won the Super Bowl.
Instead, on second-and-11, Ryan dropped back to pass and took an 11-yard sack. On the next play, Jake Matthews took a holding penalty to push the Falcons 10 more yards back. They ended up having to punt. You know the rest.
And — as noticed by Jim Murray on Thursday’s Felger & Massarotti program — Ryan appeared to have thrown some serious shade toward now-former Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan when trying to explain how that series unraveled.
“Kyle’s play calls — he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Prisco. “As I was getting it, you’re looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don’t have a lot of time to say, ‘There’s 16 seconds, no, no, no, we’re not going to do that. Hey, guys, we’re going to line up and run this.’ You’re talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.
“With the way Kyle’s system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with [former coordinator] Dirk [Koetter]. You couldn’t get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I’m all for it. But there’s also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”
Again: “We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I’m all for it. But there’s also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”
For a largely soft-spoken, inoffensive quarterback like Ryan, those are some strong words.
Clearly, Ryan had his own philosophical differences with the calls coming in through his earpiece in the moment, but given the time crunch, he seems to be claiming that he had no choice but to run the plays that were called.
The comments are unlikely to cause any sort of tension, considering Shanahan is now the head coach of the 49ers. But consider new Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to be on alert that he’ll need to be his sharpest next season.