Now on the edge of Matt Bryant’s field goal range, the Falcons attempted another pass rather than run the ball to pick up a few yards to help with the field goal try. To make matters worse, the Falcons were called for a hold and pushed well out of field goal range. An incomplete pass on third down led to a punt, and that punt led to a 10-play, 91-yard Patriots drive to tie the game.
Shanahan never got a chance to redeem himself in overtime, as the Patriots scored on the opening possession. There is no way to know if three straight runs and a field goal would have been enough, but it sure seems likely, doesn’t it?
The Falcons’ late-game woes mean the 49ers are getting a young coach who isn’t perfect. That’s not a surprise. But at the end of the day, 49ers fans should be happy that they snagged one of the top up-and-coming head coaches in the league as opposed to another retread or a yes-man hire like the one that was made with Jim Tomsula.
That was the case in the Super Bowl as well — until late in the game.
With 9:40 left to play in the Super Bowl, the Falcons held a 28-12 lead and were all but guaranteed their franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy. Coleman had five carries for 20 yards while Freeman ran the ball nine times for 74 yards and a touchdown.
So, the Falcons were up by two scores and Freeman was Freeman rushing for 8.2 yards per carry. That’s a pretty strong indicator of what the game plan should have been the rest of the way, especially after Coleman left with an ankle injury. From there it should have been the Freeman show.
Instead, the Falcons gave him just two more carries for the remainder of the game. In the final minutes of the Super Bowl, protecting a huge lead, and working with one of the best running attacks in the league, Shanahan’s Falcons ran the ball just four times.