The Atlanta Falcons continue their crusade to become sports’ most brutally choke-tastic franchise
Kevin C. Cox
Let’s start at the start. Super Bowl LI. Midway through the third quarter. The Atlanta Falcons lead the New England Patriots 28-3. Mark Wahlberg walks out, Tom Brady wakes up, Kyle Shananan won’t stop throwing the ball, and the Patriots storm back to cap arguably the greatest comeback of all time. We all know the story For Belichick and co., it was just another day at the office. For the Atlanta Falcons, however, it was a franchise-defining moment . . . and not in a good way.
Shanahan got run out of town, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman turned to glass, and eventually head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff got the long-hovering axe. In the four seasons since that game, the Falcons are 28-34, including another loss on Sunday, in which the Dirty Birds blew a 24-7 lead to (you guessed it) Tom Brady's Bucs, earning this very dubious distinction in the process:
Make fun of the Jets all you want (no really, we encourage it) and continue to forget the Jaguars exist, but neither can lay claim to a legacy of pain quite like the Atlanta Falcons. Earlier this season, we told you about the Falcons’ historic new benchmarks in chokeitude. We told you how they became the first team in NFL history to blow 20-point leads in back-to-back weeks and how they were the first team since 1933 to lose a game while scoring 39 points and committing zero turnovers (in such scenarios, those teams were a whopping 440-0!) But thanks to the this almost unthinkable stat, we now know those failures were mere cogs in the thrumming, sleepless machine of despair.
99.9%. 99.3%. 96.6%. 95.3%. The Falcons lost them all in a single 14-game span. Win even three, and they are right in the thick of the NFC Playoff hunt, but alas, that is not the Falcons' lot in life. At least not anymore. Tom Terrific made sure of that . . . again.