It would have been understandable if Matt Ryan chose to completely wipe Super Bowl LI from his memory.
After all, that game represented both the high point and the low point of the Atlanta Falcons quarterback’s NFL career. It was his first Super Bowl appearance, but it ended in heartbreaking fashion with a 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots.
How did Ryan handle such a crushing defeat? By rewatching the game. And rewatching it. And rewatching it.
“No, I watched it,” Ryan said Monday, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I watched it a day after. I watched it two days after, and I watched it three days after. For me, it was one of those things where you kind of want to be able to deal with it appropriately.
“Maybe, that’s different for everybody. Some people bury it away. Some people (do) whatever. … For me it was, ‘All right, let’s watch. Does it feel the same way it felt as we were going through it?’ ”
Atlanta led 28-3 late in the third quarter but surrendered 25 unanswered points over the final 17 minutes of regulation and the game-winning touchdown in overtime as New England completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Pundits questioned the Falcons’ late-game play-calling after then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called just four fourth-quarter running plays. But Ryan said he had no issue with that strategy.
“You have to believe in what you are doing,” the quarterback said. “That’s kind of the way we were all year. That’s not going to change. I love that approach. I love that they have confidence in me and that they have confidence in the guys that we have, and we are going to let it rip. Obviously, it didn’t work out.”
This season, the Falcons will attempt to become the first Super Bowl loser since the 1993 Buffalo Bills to return to the big game the following season.
“I think everybody is going to be really hungry to get back there,” Ryan said. “Because, the one thing that I’m proud of, we have a young team, and we were ready to play. We played well. We were right in the mix.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images