If Falcons fans are still looking for someone to blame following the biggest meltdown in Super Bowl history, you can go ahead and blame the NFL for scheduling an aggressively long halftime show, and Lady Gaga for taking part.
An NFL halftime is only 12 minutes long during the regular season, which means the players are usually only off the field for about 15 minutes total during halftime.
However, for Super Bowl LI, the league put 30 minutes on, which is actually a little longer than 30 minutes if you count the time it took to construct Lady Gaga’s stage, the time it took for the performance itself, and the time to get all Gaga’s equipment off the field once her show was over.
After all was said and done, the Patriots and Falcons were off the field for about 40 minutes.
“It definitely did,” Sanu said.
That sound you hear is Gaga album sales crashing in Atlanta.
“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.
Basically, Sanu is saying that the Falcons had some trouble restarting their engines, which, yes, seems like an odd thing for him to say given the fact that Atlanta dominated the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
Anyway, the Falcons receiver was then asked if the extended halftime was something that his team could’ve prepared for or worked on at practice in the days leading up to the game.
“I don’t know if you can simulate something like that,” Sanu said. “That was my first time experiencing something like that, and it was different.”
Of course, you can practice it, and we know that because Bill Belichick has done it before, which probably comes as a shock to exactly no one.
Before Super Bowl XLVI, Belichick gave his team a 30-minute break in the middle of practice in order to simulate the halftime show.
“It really gets into a whole restarting mentality,” Belichick said at the time. “It’s not like taking a break and coming out in the second half. It’s like starting the game all over again. It’s like playing a game, stopping, and then playing a second game. It’s like a double-header in baseball, if you will.”
The reason for the Falcons’ 34-28 overtime loss likely has nothing to do with the halftime show and has way more to do with the fact that their defense was gassed after being on the field for 93 plays (the Patriots defense was only on the field for 46 plays).
Oh, and the Falcons probably should’ve run the ball on every play in the second half.
Although Sanu didn’t second-guess the pass-heavy strategy of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, he did seem to imply that maybe Shanahan got a little too crazy with the passing game when the Falcons were leading 28-3.
“I mean, the thought crosses your mind,” Sanu said when asked if Atlanta should’ve run the ball more in the second half. “But as a player you’re going to do what the coach wants you to do. He’s called plays like that throughout the season all the time. He’s been aggressive, we’re an aggressive offense, so we go out there and we do what we do.”
If you missed Gaga’s halftime show, you can see the entire thing below. Just make sure you’re not in the middle of a workout or anything important.