- D. Orlando Ledbetter The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s recovery from the team’s historic collapse in the Super Bowl is moving along.
Instead of dealing with reality at a later date, the NFL’s reigning MVP subjected himself to the torture immediately.
The Falcons held a 28-3 lead before a bundle of miscues, decisions and big plays by the Patriots led to a 34-28 loss in overtime. It was the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history.
“No, I watched it,” Ryan said Monday at his celebrity-amateur golf tournament at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth. “I watched it a day after. I watched it two days after and I watched it three days after. For me, it was one of those things where you kind of want to be able to deal with it appropriately.
“Maybe, that’s different for everybody. Some people bury it away. Some people (do) whatever. … For me it was ‘all right, let’s watch. Does it feel the same way it felt as we were going through it?’”
Ryan said that he felt “numb” after the game.
Like a lot of pundits, Ryan thought the Falcons had the game won after Julio Jones’ spectacular catch to put them on the 22-yard line with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter and the Falcons up 28-20.
“When I let it go, I was just trying to put it high in a safe spot for him to make a play,” Ryan said. “I did that. I was fired up at that point. I thought that was going to be a play that was going to change the outcome of that game. Obviously, the next couple of plays unfolded, and we didn’t end up converting (it into) points.
“At the time, I thought it was a huge play.”
But after a sack, a holding penalty and an incomplete pass, the Falcons were out of field-goal range, and the spiral continued.
Ryan said he hasn’t second-guessed the play-calling. Critics contend that the Falcons simply needed to call three running plays and kick a field goal after Jones’ catch.
“You have to believe in what you are doing,” Ryan said. “That’s kind of the way we were all year. That’s not going to change. I love that approach.
“I love that they have confidence in me and that they have confidence in the guys that we have, and we are going to let it rip. Obviously, it didn’t work out.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn, for not overruling the play calls, and former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, for making the play calls, have been widely criticized for blowing a near-certain Super Bowl victory. The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl since entering the league in 1966.
“It’s just the nature of the NFL,” Ryan said. “I think that’s how important our league is right now. Obviously, that falls on head coaches, coordinators, quarterbacks and players in general. Is it fair or unfair? Who cares? That’s the world we live in, and you have to be able to deal with it.”
Ryan said he couldn’t change the play-call either.
“It just doesn’t operate like that in football,” Ryan said. “You have a personnel grouping that’s out on the field that could change or limit your number of plays. So, if you want to change out of something and into something, you might not have the right guys out there.”
Ryan said it was enough just to get the call from Shanahan, get it called and try to make sure that everyone was on the same page.
“Talk to 99 percent of the guys and they will tell you that what comes in is what we are going to run,” Ryan said. “As a player, it’s your job to make the plays work. I’ve always believed that whatever the play call is, it’s your responsibility to go out there and make it work. We didn’t get it done on those couple of plays.”
Although no losing Super Bowl team has made it back to the game since the 1993 Buffalo Bills, Ryan believes the team’s future is bright.
“I think everybody is going to be really hungry to get back there,” Ryan said. “Because, the one thing that I’m proud of, we have a young team, and we were ready to play. We played well. We were right in the mix.
“We fell a little bit short, but we should have every bit of confidence that we are going to be right back there next year getting a different outcome because we’re going to be more experienced.”