Coming out of Super Bowl LI, everyone is buzzing about one GOAT. As in, “Greatest Of All Time.” Apparently, that’s Tom Brady. But Brady wouldn’t be getting quite as much GOAT chatter if not for four Atlanta Falcons goats. As in, “dudes who screwed up and are now the object of hostility.”
Let’s never forget the role these four guys played in the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history…
1. Kyle Shanahan: The Falcons offensive coordinator is already off to San Francisco to take the reins as head coach of the 49ers, but he’ll forever be remembered as the guy who called five running plays over the final 24 minutes of a game his team was leading by 25 points. Why in the world was Matt Ryan dropping back to pass when he fumbled on a 3rd-and-1 play in the fourth quarter? Why didn’t Atlanta just run the ball three consecutive times in field-goal range with an eight-point lead and less than five minutes remaining? Why get cute? It sometimes felt as though Shanahan was trying to lose this game. In my entire life, I’ve never been so flabbergasted by an offensive strategy.
2. Matt Ryan: The Falcons quarterback had to be more aware on those three sacks in the final 18 minutes. Two might have cost them points, and the other led directly to New England points thanks to the fumble. You can’t take those sacks and commit that turnover under those circumstances. And don’t tell me he didn’t have the ability to check out of some of those passes.
3. Jake Matthews: The Falcons left tackle had an absolutely terrible game, giving up five pressures. But what really makes him a goat is he took Atlanta out of field-goal range twice during New England’s comeback with blatant and unacceptable holding penalties. If he doesn’t commit either one of those penalties, the Falcons probably win the Super Bowl.
4. Devonta Freeman: The Falcons running back had 121 yards on only 13 touches, but his inability to pick up a blitzing Dont’a Hightower on that strip sack might have cost Atlanta the Lombardi Trophy.
Super Bowl goats for life, those four.