The Atlanta Falcons are Amateurs!

We should have known.

When they were in a dogfight with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win the NFC South.

We should have known.

Back in November when they lost an ugly battle against the lowly Philadelphia Eagles.

We should have known.

It was too good to be true.

We should have known, we should have known, we should have known.

The city of Atlanta, a fabulous area that I have had the pleasure of experiencing for five pivotal years of my life, is a special place, but far from a sports town. Maybe we should have seen this coming, but I should have known that the Atlanta Falcons, known in the past for falling short of expectations,  would somehow find any way possible to hand New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady his fifth ring

For all the love and G.O.A.T. appreciation  Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have been receiving after their unbelievable come from behind 34-28 victory over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston TX., I cannot ignore the ultimate choke job that the Falcons put on in a truly heartbreaking experience for fans of the Atlanta franchise.

Atlanta had been on an absolute tear, beating the Seattle Seahawks by 16 and annihilating the Green Bay Packers in a 44-21 shocker. Atlanta appeared to be sticking to the same script against New England, emerging early as the better team, leading 14-0, then forcing Brady into a terrible throw which led to a pick-6 and a 21-point cushion.

The game should have been over.

The second half started and it was much of the same. Atlanta was moving the football, the constant pressure from the front seven left Brady rattled and Belichick confused. The 28 – 3 score midway through the third quarter made this an all but certain victory for the Falcons.

We should have known.

What transpired the remainder of the night was disgusting ineptitude play-calling and overall execution from a team that wanted to be great, but clearly lacked the composure to become champions. Devonta Freeman is one of the best running backs in the NFL today. Many were upset earlier this week when Freeman’s agent Kristin Campbell abruptly lashed out against the Falcons for underutilizing their stud ‘back.

The far cry from Campbell was completely justified in the Super Bowl as Freeman was dangerous and productive whenever called upon. Which was hardly ever. Confusing and baffling, much to Campbell’s point, Freeman wasn’t used nearly enough. Literally, with a 25-point lead, offensive coordinator of the year Kyle Shanahan refused to feed his featured back as Freeman totaled 5 rushes in the second half.

“It’s not really the run-pass ratio that I look at,” Shanahan said. “It’s you stay on the field, and you run your offense. [We] went three-and-out two times, which was huge. I think we had second-and-1 on both of those. To not convert on second-and-1 and then third, it was tough. That’s why we let them get back into the game.”

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Kyle Shanahan looks baffled after his play calling cost the Falcons. Photo credit USATSI

This doesn’t take advanced thinking to comprehend or understand. When you have a large lead past halftime, you run the ball and kill the clock. This should have been the obvious game plan moving forward but for inexcusable reasons, it didn’t happen. The Patriots are a team that capitalizes on mistakes and dictates games based on their opponent’s hiccups. Shanahan and head coach Dan Quinn were exceptional for much of the night, and then were harshly schooled by Belichick, ultimately becoming the biggest losers in the history of the Super Bowl.

Some Falcon’s loyalist may argue that “there’s always next year” or “we’ll be back soon.” That’s a dangerous way of thinking. Just look at quarterback Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers. Newton almost ran the table in a dominating 15-1 season last year before losing in the Super Bowl. This year Carolina finished 6-10. Things change quickly in the NFL, there’s no guarantee you will be back, especially after giving up 31 unanswered points.

The Atlanta Falcons are nothing more than pretenders. We should have known.