Fal­cons’ fans still in som­bre mood after loss

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY JONATHAN LAN­DRUM JR.

There were partly cloudy skies in At­lanta on Mon­day, but the over­cast loom­ing over the city seemed to be more from the gloom of the Fal­cons’ gutwrench­ing Su­per Bowl 51 loss.

Fal­cons’ fans are in a som­bre mood after their team blew a 25-point lead in a 34-28 loss to the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots on Sun­day night. The abun­dant ex­cite­ment that en­gulfed the city lead­ing up to the matchup had been re­placed by another heart­break­ing sports set­back for the A-T-L.

Even for fans used to dis­ap­point­ment, this “L” was un­prece­dented.

“We came so far. We had the rings ready to be put on our fin­gers,” said Ny­lous Dick­er­son, a chef who watched from Dan­tanna’s, where he works at the CNN Cen­ter in the shad­ows of the Ge­or­gia Dome and the Fal­cons’ new sta­dium.

“We gave that game away. We gave Tom Brady too many chances. It was a som­bre wakeup. I still don’t feel good about this.”

Dick­er­son, like many Fal­cons fans, might not feel well for some time.

New Eng­land won even though the Pa­tri­ots never snapped the ball with the lead. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Fal­cons found ways to lose that had never been done: in over­time at the Su­per Bowl after lead­ing by 19 points head­ing into the fourth quar­ter.

The hang­over ap­par­ently was so crush­ing that there was hardly any rush hour traf­fic Mon­day morn­ing in city where traf­fic jams are the norm.

“We had a lady call in say­ing she didn’t want to go to work to­day,” said Carl Dukes of At­lanta ra­dio show 92.9 FM The Game. “We had a stu­dent call in say­ing she told her par­ents she didn’t want to go to school be­cause ev­ery­body would be talk­ing about it. That’s the feel­ing. Ev­ery­body is kind of still in shock about how this all went down.”

Te­neshia Ethridge saw a change of de­meanour in Fal­cons fans be­fore and after the game. She said she paid nearly $5,000 for a Su­per Bowl ticket to sit five rows be­hind the Fal­cons bench and watched Brady throw for Su­per Bowl record 466 yards for her team’s loss.

Ethridge said fans had planned on par­ty­ing after the game, but the loss sent most of them back to their ho­tel rooms in shock.

“It was vi­brant, alive and col­or­ful when we left Satur­day,” said Ethridge, who at­tends home and away games. “There was a tail­gate at the gate at the air­port when we were get­ting on the plane with a DJ. But when we came back to­day, it was like no­body wanted to talk. We didn’t want to speak to each other. I feel com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Noth­ing was sup­posed to hap­pen like this.”

But this is At­lanta. The city has only one ma­jor sports cham­pi­onship in 169 com­bined sea­sons for its NFL team, Ma­jor League Baseball’s Braves, the NBA’s Hawks and two now-de­parted NHL teams, the Flames and the Thrash­ers.

The Braves won the World Se­ries in 1995.

Fans in At­lanta had hoped the Fal­cons would claim their first cham­pi­onship in their 51-year his­tory. The an­tic­i­pa­tion was build­ing through­out the city days lead­ing up the big game with sev­eral ral­lies in­clud­ing one that fea­tured At­lanta Mayor Kasim Reed and R&B singer Usher at City Hall.

AP PHOTO

Michael Mazza re­acts after the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots scored late in the fourth quar­ter against the At­lanta Fal­cons in the NFL Su­per Bowl 51 game be­ing played in Hous­ton while watch­ing it on tele­vi­sion at Fado Ir­ish Pub in At­lanta on Sun­day.

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