Super Bowl collapse continues to dog Falcons entering rematch with Patriots

Not sure if you've heard, but the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl this past year, handing over the keys to the franchise's first title so Tom Brady and the Patriots could squeeze another championship banner into Gillette Stadium

The Falcons insisted all offseason they were over the loss, but it definitely had a "doth protest a bit much" feel to it. When they coughed up a 17-0 halftime lead to the Dolphins in Week 6, red flags about a Super Bowl hangover started flying everywhere

So did the questions, what with the Falcons about to play the Patriots for the first time since they watched Brady snatch victory from them. Just about everyone was asked whether the inability to close out games is something that carried over from the previous season's ending, including, obviously, coach Dan Quinn.

"You can't replay the game that was played in the Super Bowl, what we can do is control what we have now. For that one, it was a historic game. One that we didn't get done," Quinn said. "We don't look back to that one every time we're ahead, or when we're behind in any of that way. Our focus is 100 percent on now and who we are."

And quarterback Matt Ryan, who held his own pretty well on the line of questioning, although he noticeably did not mention the phrase "Super Bowl." 

"I don't go that far back in terms of thinking," Ryan said. "But it was the case today. 17-point lead at half, and to come away without a win is disappointing. Pretty inconsistent game for us. I felt like we did some good things and made some good plays. Executed at a high level in the first half. In the second half, got ourselves behind schedule.

"When you're playing in this league and against good teams and good defenses like this, you have to come away with points. I think that's what led to it today, I can't really speak to what happened before."

One player, linebacker Vic Beasley, apparently brought it up without anyone asking about the Super Bowl specifically. 

"It's tough. We've experienced that feeling before in the Super Bowl," Beasley said. "It's a learning experience."

Regardless of whether or not he was asked about it specifically, there is a pretty common theme for the Falcons at this point: they don't want to talk about the Super Bowl. And yet we're more than a third of the way through the season and it's still being brought back up.

Things could be worse, too. Atlanta narrowly avoided some major Week 1 hangover chatter by sneaking past the Bears. They stole a victory in Detroit thanks to an officiating controversy

At 2-1, things were fine. Shake off the early jitters and keep playing well. But the offense has sputtered the last two weeks in home games against questionable teams from the AFC East. The Falcons just put up 34 points combined in two losses to the Bills and Dolphins. 

To put that in perspective, the Falcons averaged 33.8 points per game for the entire 2016 season. They are not operating efficiently with Kyle Shanahan gone. Ryan does not look like the MVP. They ran the ball just 18 times total in a game where they led 17-0 at half. 

Something is amiss and a nationally-televised game against the Patriots looms on Sunday night. At least there's nothing significant about the opponent this week or anything. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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