Time Out with Newt Clark

Photo by John Nakano

After fooling an entire city into thinking this might actually be the year an Atlanta team wins a championship, the Atlanta Falcons have once again come up short in the playoffs.

The Falcons came out firing on all cylinders, as the offense looked unstoppable and the defense wasn’t allowing the 49ers to get anything going. Just a little over a quarter into the game, the Falcons were up by 17.

That was about as good as it got for the Falcons on that Sunday, as they would manage to blow the lead. It was similar to the previous week against the Seahawks, but this time the Falcons were not able to overcome it.

As I watched the team unravel in the second half, there was so much they were doing wrong. The Falcons were unable to get in the head of first year starter Colin Kaepernick at all as he was 16-for-21 with no interceptions. There was no pressure on him at all has he would leisurely drop back just to find an open receiver open 20 yards down the field. Matt Ryan also had two turnovers in the second half including a crucial fumble with the Falcons in scoring range. As bad as the Falcons had played in the second half they were still only ten yards away from winning the game late in the fourth quarter, but after incompletions on third and fourth down, the whole city was left wondering how the Falcons could blow a 17-point lead and a chance to play in the Super Bowl.

Immediately after the game was finished I got on Twitter to see how other fans were reacting. Most fans were blaming the loss on one thing: the referees. Whether it was the blow to the head call against Cliff Matthews that extended a 49ers’ drive, or the lack of a pass interference call against the 49ers as Roddy White went to catch the ball on the Falcons’ last drive. There were so many mistakes the Falcons made in the second half that you could blame for the loss, but many fans just didn’t want to admit that the Falcons lost this one on their own.

This is a common occurrence among sports fans. Whenever our favorite team loses a close game we are so quick to blame the refs. In most cases the refs probably did make a few calls that didn’t go our way, but should we really expect the refs to be right 100 percent of the time? Nobody expects the quarterback to complete all of his passes. Nobody expects a basketball player to make all of his shots, or for a baseball player to get a hit every at bat. So why we should we expect the referees to make get every single call right?

It’s time for us fans to just accept that the referees are going to make some bad calls. Even with instant replay it can sometimes be hard to tell what the right call is, so it is nearly impossible to be perfect when having to make it I real time. As hard as it is to admit, sometimes the responsibility of the loss falls solely on our teams’ shoulders.