As the Falcons were in the process of blowing a 20-point lead against the Seahawks on Sunday, I wondered aloud on Twitter whether anyone, everyone, or no one would be fired if the Falcons lost.
In the end, the Falcons survived (in case you hadn’t heard). But it remains tempting to wonder what the aftermath in Atlanta would have been if quarterback Matt Ryan hadn’t guided the team into field goal range with the same 31 seconds that were on the clock when the Broncos decided a day earlier to take a knee and go to overtime.
The Falcons, of course, had no choice; they were trailing. And owner Arthur Blank may have felt like he had no choice but to make changes in the wake of five straight winning seasons but four playoff defeats punctuated by the worst fourth-quarter postseason collapse in NFL history.
Dan Patrick has mentioned during his daily radio/TV show that the buzz at the BCS national championship game among folks from Atlanta with the financial wherewithal to attend the game was that, if the Falcons were to lose, Blank would fire coach Mike Smith.
That would have been a bad move. Despite the postseason struggles, the Falcons routinely are knocking on the door. Sooner or later, they’ll kick it in. Or come close to doing so.
The reality is that there’s only one team every year that wins the Super Bowl. It’s much easier to become that team if a team is consistently in contention. The Falcons are, and Smith is a big reason for that.
So apart from the fact that Ryan’s last-minute heroics saved the team’s season, the quarterback may have saved the owner from making what would have been a huge mistake.