The Atlanta Falcons are two seasons removed from their historic Super Bowl 51 collapse. But as the Falcons gear up for their 2019-2020 campaign, they have a shot at avenging their meltdown by embracing 28-3.
The Atlanta Falcons and the entire city of Atlanta can still taste the success that slipped away; the Lombardi Trophy that fell from their hands.
Matt Ryan penned a piece titled The Hangover for The Players Tribune in September 2017, just a few months after the Super Bowl collapse. In an emotional piece full of frustration and acceptance, Ryan said the following:
"When somebody would talk to me about the Super Bowl — it could have been anybody … family, fans, the media — it would stay with me the rest of the day. It didn’t matter what I was doing. I could be out grocery shopping and it would creep back into my mind."
Ryan’s story won’t be defined by 28-3; it will be defined by how he responds to it. In order for the Atlanta Falcons to erase their scars, which are darkening by the season, they’ll have to use their failure as motivation.
They’ll have to remind themselves how incredibly close they were to bringing home a championship to Atlanta. By fueling the 28-3 flame, the Falcons have a chance to soar all the way to Miami for Super Bowl 54.
As the head coach of the Falcons, Dan Quinn knows it better than anyone: making it back to the top won’t be easy. In the 2017 off-season, Quinn implemented a new team motto: “Embrace the suck.” Quinn explained the meaning in a CBS Sports article:
"Eat a crap sandwich with a smile. This is going to be hard. Your choice: It’s a victim’s mentality or a warrior mentality. It’s like, ‘I know this run is going to be long, and it’s going to be really hard. But here I go again."
Veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn has tasted failure as a Falcon and success as a Patriot in the Super Bowl. Although Clayborn didn’t participate in Super Bowl 51 due to injury, he witnessed the 28-3 collapse first hand as a Falcon.
He joined the New England Patriots for the 2018-2019 season, snagging his first Super Bowl ring. Now back in Atlanta, Clayborn is looking for his second ring and a shot at redemption.
From Matt Ryan to Devonta Freeman to Grady Garrett, the 2016-2017 squad is largely intact. The Atlanta Falcons have a shot at redemption; a shot at re-writing their story. It’s time for the Falcons to embrace their scars.
In The Hangover, Matty Ice couldn’t have said it better:
"Losing the Super Bowl is always going to be a part of our story. But it’s not our whole story."