ATLANTA – I’m not going to lie. When the Atlanta Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention a couple weeks back, it was a bummer. But as I sit back this weekend and watch the Wild Card games – complete with teams and fans who are soaked, frozen, or both – I’m at peace with it.
I’m at peace with the Birds missing out on the postseason for a third straight year. You know why? Emotions. Look at the faces in Houston, Cincinnati, Minneapolis and Washington. It’s not worth it.READ MORE: The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office In Contract With FDOT For Speed Enforcement
Don’t believe me? Here are the top five reasons we should be glad our team went into draft mode early.
How does it feel to be a Houston Texans fan right now? You win your lousy division, earn a home playoff game…and for what? Get to the postseason and realize you have absolutely no quarterback on your roster. Your best chance to score a point is J.J. Watt out of the Wildcat. Even that doesn’t work.
Remember, we know what playoff humiliation feels like (a mighty two-point output at the Meadowlands in 2012). You might as well just have stayed at home.
Two things Falcon fans have struggled with the past couple years: turnovers and red zone inefficiency. Both those frustrating issues were on display this Wild Card weekend.
Case in point: Brian Hoyer gave the ball away four times in the first half of the Texans’ 30-0 loss to the Chiefs. Jeremy Hill’s fumble cost the Bengals in their 18-16 loss to the Steelers. Ditto for Adrian Peterson and his fumble in the Vikings’ 10-9 loss to the Seahawks.
Costly fumbles. Key interceptions. Are we jogging any memories here?
Meantime, the Viking and Steeler offenses moved the ball only to turn things over to their kickers four different times, trading seven points for three (worked out better for Pittsburgh, in the end, than it did for Minnesota).
3. HelplessnessREAD MORE: Atlanta School Renamed For Baseball Legend Hank Aaron
It’s one thing to lose your playoff game, but to have the officials take it from you? And all you can do is boo, curse and throw garbage on the field? No, we’re not talking about the 2012 NL Wild Card game at Turner Field. That’s where Cincinnati Bengal fans are after the flag on Adam
Pacman Jones in the final minute of the Steelers-Bengals game.
Poor officiating never “costs” you a game, but it certainly shouldn’t factor into a loss. When it does, there are few things that leave a fan base feeling more angry and helpless.
What are the chances of a one-time All-Pro kicker missing a 27-yard chip shot field goal with the game on the line? How about having your backup quarterback lead you back from a 15 point fourth quarter deficit only to lose because of a collective brain fart on the part of two defensive players?
Weird stuff happens in playoff football and, when it does, it’s heartbreaking. Fans of the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals found that out the hard way this weekend.
Falcon fans? Eh, we’re good with debating the relative merits of defensive end vs. linebacker with our first round draft pick.
1. Déjá vu
With the exception of the 1995 Braves, we know exactly how any given Atlanta playoff run is going to end: painfully. Sometimes it’s quick – see any baseball postseason since 2001 – and sometimes it’s slow – last year’s Hawks – but it’s always painful.
This Falcons team was not equipped to make a deep run and, to be frank, did well to finish with their 8-8 record. Had they made the postseason it would have been over quickly, but no less painfully.MORE NEWS: Atlanta Public Schools Celebrates All-Time High Graduation Rate
I think the Falcons make the playoffs next season. I’m looking forward to it. It will be a much improved (10 win) team, more than just a one-and-done outfit. But we’re Atlanta sports fans. You know how it’s going to end.