The Atlanta Falcons were just under five minutes away from a Super Bowl title Sunday, when things went horribly wrong. Since then, it has become readily apparent that Kyle Shanahan is going down as the goat of this game. After Sunday’s loss, he reportedly told people at the team hotel that he blew it.
After a near miraculous catch by Julio Jones set the Falcons up at the Patriots 22-yard line, all they needed was a field goal to all but put the game on ice. After Devonta Freeman lost a yard on 1st and 10, Shanahan dialed up a pass play. Matt Ryan was sacked for a 12 yard loss, moving Atlanta back to the 35. They picked up a critical nine yards on 3rd and 23, only to have it brought back due to holding. They faced 3rd and 33 at the Patriots 45, and Matt Ryan threw an incomplete pass intended for Taylor Gabriel.
This was not the only part of the second half that saw poor play-calling and execution by the Falcons, but it is the timeline people will point to for years to come. Blame belongs on a host of people, including Shanahan, Ryan, and Jake Matthews (the holding call), but Shanahan will get the brunt of it.
Whether or not he told anybody that he blew it (and this is just one report), I am hopeful that he did in fact say that. Taking the blame is a good sign in my mind. Especially behind the scenes without thinking about the media. It does not mean he is going to be an excellent head coach for the 49ers, but it is hopefully a sign of maturity needed in what will be a long re-building process in Santa Clara.