Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan listens to Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle...

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan listens to Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on the sideline during the Super Bowl LI football game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston. The Patriots won the game 34-28 in overtime. Credit: AP/Paul Spinelli

MIAMI — Kyle Shanahan is coaching in Super Bowl LIV, in the shadow of Super Bowl LI.

That was the game three years ago when the Falcons, with Shanahan as offensive coordinator, blew a 28-3 fourth-quarter lead and lost to the Patriots in overtime. It undoubtedly was a low point in his career. Yet it is a moment that he has not shied away from discussing this week.


“Because I don’t think there’s anything to run away from. I’m very proud of that year. I was proud of our team in Atlanta. I was proud of our players, and I thought we played a pretty darn good game,” said Shanahan, in his third year as 49ers coach. “We were up 28-3 in the fourth and we all know that we did not play well in the fourth, didn’t coach well. But to sit here and run from something, I’m not going to run from that.”

Although the defense struggled to stop Tom Brady, Shanahan and the offense had a chance to seal it. He’s been criticized for calling a pass play on a third down in the middle of the fourth quarter, resulting in a strip sack of Matt Ryan that allowed the Patriots to make it a one-possession game.

On their next drive, still with the lead, the Falcons used two long passes to move to the New England 22. They could have run out most of the clock, forced the Patriots to burn timeouts and kicked a field goal for an 11-point lead. But Shanahan again called a pass play, Ryan was sacked and the Patriots tied it to force overtime.

“I think anyone can learn a lot from that game,” Shanahan said. ”No matter how much you get up on someone, you have to keep moving the chains . . . When you play against a quarterback like Tom Brady you have to do some things to keep him off the field.”

Although Shanahan has rehashed that game plenty over the past two weeks, he said it won’t be on his mind Sunday.

“Whoever loses the Super Bowl is going to be very upset. It’s going to take a lot to get over it,” he said. “If you’re scared of failure and you’re scared of the pain that you’ll feel, then this sport is not for you. I’m just pumped to have the opportunity and we’re going to give it everything we have.”

Shanahan said he understands the perception that he was a big part of squandering that seemingly insurmountable lead three years ago.

“I can deal with that, I’ve been able to, and knowing that has made me a little bit stronger,” he said. “I think it’s always harder for people who love me like my wife and family members, because they’re very defensive of it.

“I was involved in the game. I know exactly what happened, every single play.  And I know I can live with that.”

Latest Videos