Falcons at crossroads after Super Bowl meltdown
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[February 07, 2017]
(Reuters) - The Atlanta Falcons
were left to wonder what might have been and what will be of their
future in the aftermath of their Super Bowl collapse on Sunday.
Atlanta's 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots was a
study in improbability for a talented NFC team that looked destined
to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
When the Falcons entered the fourth quarter with a 28-9 advantage,
it looked to be the start of an exciting future for the franchise
which finds itself at a crossroads instead.
"There is never going to be a way to get over the loss," Falcons
coach Dan Quinn told reporters. "The guy battled as hard as they
can." A collection of small miscues added up to the colossal defeat
in the end for Atlanta.
Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady converted a fourth-down play that led to a
touchdown, New England added a field goal, then the Falcons fumbled
to set up another Patriots score and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan was sacked
to push his team out of field goal range.
In the blink of an eye, New England tallied TDs and two-point
conversions before ultimately completing the miracle win in OT.
"There's nothing you can really say," Ryan said. "That's a tough
loss. Obviously (we're) very disappointed, very close to getting
done what we wanted to get done, but it's hard to find words."
Falcons super fan and actor Samuel L. Jackson summed it up
succinctly when he tweeted: "The agony of defeat...see ya next
Atlanta now attempts to shift their focus to next season and shaping
a roster that can defend their NFC title.
Several free agents loom for the franchise, and running back Devonta
Freeman plans to renegotiate what would be the final season of his
[to top of second column]
Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) is congratulated by head
coach Dan Quinn after a touchdown during the second quarter against
the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Dan
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General manager Thomas Dimitroff and assistant general manager Scott
Pioli attended the college all star Senior Bowl in the week leading
up to the Super Bowl, already keeping an eye on future talent.
"It’s vital," Dimitroff said. "You continue to have an open mind and
you’re willing to go out into the market and grab someone that is
ideal for your team." Personnel aside, the Falcons future prospects
might depend on how they recover from their epic defeat.
"What (this loss) does have is some of that toughness that you have
to go through,” Quinn said. “It does make you stronger."
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan
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