HOUSTON — I’m sure most of you don’t want to spend any more time reviewing the carnage of Sunday’s Super Bowl collapse against New England.
Some are calling it a choke. As much as I hate using that word, when a team leads 28-3 in the third quarter and 28-9 with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation and has a chance to put the game away with a field goal with under four minutes remaining and still loses — well, it’s hard to argue against the “choke” word.
But this is how bad things went for the Falcons. Several of their assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Richard Smith, got stuck upstairs when the elevator never came to pick them up and take them down to the locker room afterwards. You can see them standing by a bank of elevators in the photo above.
Here’s what happened:
— When the game ended, the assistants stepped out of their coaching box and went to the elevators. As a general rule, elevators are held for coaches before media — or fans seated in luxury boxes — can use them. But that wasn’t the case this time. The elevators were on other floors taking fans.
— After more than five minutes, the coaches were told it might be best to walk down. So they descended a staircase and soon found themselves walking in an NRG plaza with fans, outside of concession stands, as several New England fans were shouting and celebrating their team’s win.
— The group waded their way through the crowd for about 50 yards, then somebody shouted for them to hook back because an elevator would pick them up from that floor. So they all walked to the elevators and waited. It was another several minutes before an elevator came, but not before all had vented to stadium employees and Shanahan let out some expletives. Shanahan eventually walked away to lean against a wall and cool off. In total, it was at least 20 minutes from the time the coaches waited for their first elevator before they reached the ground floor.
Understand, Shanahan wasn’t in the best mood anyway because of the loss, which happened in part because of his fourth-quarter decisions, calling two ill-advised pass plays in obvious running situations that resulted in sacks (and one fumble). (See game column for more detail.) That opened the door to the Patriots’ comeback.
The Falcons obviously wouldn’t have made it to the Super Bowl without the success of Shanahan’s offensive scheme. But they lost this game in part because of him.
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