Losing a Super Bowl can suck the life out of a team.
Just look at the Seattle Seahawks still fighting amongst themselves after losing to the New England Patriots more than two years ago at Super Bowl XLIX. And last year’s NFC-champion Carolina Panthers went from being one of the most feared teams in the NFL to a 6-10 record and last place in the NFC South after losing in Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos. No team has lost a Super Bowl and returned the following year since the 1993 Buffalo Bills.
That doesn’t exactly leave much room for hope for an Atlanta Falcons team that just gave up the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history to the Patriots. Teams don’t simply bounce back a year after blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. Imagine the agony of dominating a game for three quarters, only to be stifled by the Patriots’ defense and witness Tom Brady put on his greatest magician act yet by marching his team up and down the field for 31 unanswered points.
The pain and disappointment from that game will stick with that team for a lifetime. Will they be able to put those feelings aside, while they’re still fresh, and focus on next season?
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan certainly believes so.
“We’re already back at it,” said Ryan, when speaking with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When we started as a team in April, we got together before that as players down in Miami, it was time to move one. It was time to look forward. Anytime that we kind of dwell on [the Super Bowl loss], is wasted time. We have to focus trying to become the best football team that this group can be.”
Ryan is definitely saying and doing all of the right things to put his team into position to compete for another Lombardi Trophy. How well his words actually translate on the football field remains to be seen.
The Falcons still have the pieces from last year’s historically great offense.
An interesting wrinkle will be the absence of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who accepted the head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s no coincidence Ryan peaked while Shanahan was calling the plays. His genius offensive play-calling will be greatly missed in Atlanta next season.
The Falcons will have to overcome quite possibly the greatest meltdown in sports history without the guidance of their whiz offensive coordinator. That’s quite a chore even for a team as talented as the Falcons.
There may not be a remedy in existence to cure the approaching hangover.