Monday, April 23, 2018
Sports

Falcons fans still in shock after collapse

ATLANTA — 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' gut-wrenching Super Bowl loss.

Falcons fans were in a somber mood after their team blew a 25-point lead in a 34-28 loss to the Patriots on Sunday night. The excitement that engulfed the city had been replaced by another heartbreaking sports setback.

"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 somber wakeup. I still don't feel good about this."

New England won even though it never snapped the ball with the lead. The Falcons found ways to lose that had never been done: in overtime at the Super Bowl after leading by 19 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 Duke of Atlanta radio station 92.9-FM. "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 demeanor 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.

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," she said. "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 (Monday), 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."

SHANAHAN JOINS 49ERS: San Francisco officially hired Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as its head coach more than a month after firing Chip Kelly after one season.

The 49ers had to wait to sign Shanahan to a contract because the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl. He will be formally introduced at a news conference this week.

Jon Embree, who has coached the Bucs' tight ends for the past three seasons, will join Shanahan's staff as tight ends coach and assistant head coach. Embree, 51, helped cultivate breakout star Cam Brate with Tampa Bay.

RATINGS DIP: Super Bowl LI had an overnight rating of 48.8, down a hair from last year's 49.0.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Bills will hire former Bucs assistant Gill Byrd as their secondary coach. Byrd was Tampa Bay's secondary coach in 2014-15. … Former 49ers defensive back George Maderos died Thursday. He was 83.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

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