The Atlanta Falcons came into Super Bowl LI with the highest scoring offense during the season. They were facing the number one defense in opponents scoring on the season. That should not have mattered. And in the beginning, it looked as though it wouldn’t. So how did the Falcons blow a 25 point half-time lead? Who is to blame for their defense being exhausted at the end of the game? There is only one person, Offensive Coordinator, Kyle Shanahan.
The Atlanta Falcons were having their way with the New England Patriots defense in the first half of the game. They were running the ball at will and QB Matt Ryan was on target with his passes. He was hitting his bevy of receivers on point. The Falcons offense looked unstoppable in those first quarters.
They were averaging 11-yards per carry on the ground. Kyle Shanahan was mixing the run with the pass. They had the New England Patriots on their heels. It looked as if there was no stopping this offense on this day. Then half time came. What was about to be seen would be unreal.
The Atlanta Falcons would open the second half with the ball and a 21-3 halftime lead. They needed to continue to do what they did in the first half, keep the Patriots defense off balance and on their heels. They were unsuccessful in doing that on their first drive. Three plays and out. Not the way the second half needed to start.
The Falcons would get the ball back after a Patriots missed a field goal. They would be successful on this drive by doing what they had done in the first half. Running to the outside and using play action. They a good mix of run and pass and that resulted in their final score of the game? This is when Kyle Shanahan fell asleep and lost the game for the Atlanta Falcons.
It was from here on out that the Falcons offense looked like it did not belong. They were stuck worrying about not losing this game instead of winning it. They would not find a rhythm for the rest of the night. It was horrifying to watch an offense collapse in the fashion the Falcons did.
Kyle Shanahan’s biggest gaff was with under 5 minutes to play. Matt Ryan had just hit Julio Jones on a sideline route. Jones makes a tremendous catch and the Falcons are in FG range. Shanahan the calls 3 passing play in a row. This should have been 3 running plays. Who cares if you lose 2-yards? You are still kicking a 40 yard FG with under 3 minutes and you could be up 11. Ball game!! Instead, Ryan gets sacked, there is a holding penalty, and they throw an incomplete pass. Now Brady has you right where he wants you.
So you see it may have looked as though the Atlanta defense was at fault but really it was the play-calling of Kyle Shanahan that cost the Atlanta Falcons their first Super Bowl victory.