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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Atlanta Deserves These Falcons and Their Latest Choke Job for the Ages

Matt Ryan and the Falcons fell apart in an all-time choke job against the Cowboys.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons fell apart in an all-time choke job against the Cowboys.
Photo: Getty

The Atlanta Falcons stink.

There’s no other way to describe them that would do this pitiful organization justice.

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After Sunday’s embarrassing collapse to the Dallas Cowboys — a 40-39 last-second loss after leading 20-0 after the first quarter — the Falcons reminded us all why that town is the Choke Capital of Sports.

Yes, ATL stands for: Another Terrible Loss.

This is becoming too common, too synonymous with this franchise, with this city that can’t help choking in games that should be in the bag.

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Don’t just take it from me, here’s what Sir Charles Barkley said about them.

“They outdid themselves today,” Barkley said on TNT. “That was the biggest choke job, what the Atlanta Falcons did today. I’m not giving the Cowboys no credit. That was a choke job.”

Just when you thought it was impossible for the Falcons to one-up themselves, they did it, sending shockwaves all across the country.

Sadly, few were shocked. Many simply had seen this movie before.

We all remember the gift Super Bowl the Falcons gave Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in 2017. Yep, with six minutes to go in the third quarter, the Falcons had a 28-3 lead. Somehow, ATL lost, 34-28, in overtime.

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That left a mark on Atlanta like a bad tattoo you can’t get rid off.

Sunday’s loss, however, was one for the ages. Sure, the stage wasn’t as big as competing for the franchise’s first championship and the whole country wasn’t watching. It was just a regular-season game.

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Still … it registered with epic proportion.

According to Elias, teams with 39 points and zero turnovers — exactly what the Falcons had — were 444-0 in the NFL since 1933 when they started keeping track of turnovers.

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Yep, the Falcons grabbed hold of that dubious honor, becoming the first to actually lose a game with those stats.

And it’s only fitting for it to happen to Atlanta sports fans. Sadly, they deserve to have to witness and live with a choke job that Millennials will be telling their grandkids about 50 years from now.

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That’s how deep this wound will run.

Kind of like 1996, when the Braves won the first two games of the World Series against the Yankees in New York only to go home and lose the next three games in Atlanta. Yanks won the title in six.

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That was Atlanta all over, too.

Let’s be honest in talking about Atlanta. It’s the worst sports city in America.

This is not new or recent. This is almost common knowledge.

The support for the teams down there is bad. And for the most part, has always been.

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They get a break this year because of the pandemic. With no fans being allowed to attend games in most sports venues, Atlanta looks like most sport towns these days.

But when you pull the cover back, you realize that Atlanta isn’t a hotbed for professional sports. It’s exactly the opposite.

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Atlanta has been home to empty seats for a long time.

The Braves are good again with a lot of young talent, including star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. They have a new stadium, SunTrust Park. Attendance, pre-pandemic, was around the top third. But normally, a new stadium and a playoff caliber team makes attendance pop in any sport.

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In their heyday, they were even better. But despite winning 14 division titles in a row at one point, the Braves led the league in attendance just once. And there were plenty of playoff games with thousands of empty seats.

Last season, the Hawks, with a young star of their own in Trae Young, ranked 25th in NBA attendance. If you’ve ever gone to a Hawks home game at State Farm Arena, often it feels like there are more fans pulling for the visiting team. Strange feel, indeed.

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Did we mention the NHL? Atlanta has lost not one, but two NHL franchises. First, they lost the Flames in 1980. In 2011, the Thrashers bounced for Winnipeg.

The shocking part is that they keep building new stadiums in Atlanta for these mostly ungrateful fans. The Braves and Falcons each got new homes despite their old places being only 20 years old.

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It wasn’t like they were old and broken down or the teams needed more seats, bigger places to align with new and booming fan support.

It just didn’t match.

What does go together with Atlanta is sad, choking teams. For sure, they have cornered the market. Sunday was just another example. And for fans in the ATL, it’s what they’ve become accustomed to. Those teams and that city deserve each other.

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