HOUSTON — The Atlanta Falcons squandered a 25-point lead to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. After holding the Pats to three first-half points, Dan Quinn’s defense surrendered 31 in the second half and overtime.
“As a defense, we kind of lost a little bit of our aggression during the game, that we had early in the game,” Campbell said Sunday night. “I just thought we lost it a little bit.”
Brady compiled just 184 yards and an interception on 16-of-26 passing in the first half. He ended the game with 466 yards on 43-of-62 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see the deep statistical divide.
“I can’t say any specific moment,” Campbell said of Brady’s second-half spark. “I just felt like as a defense we kind of got away from our fundamentals a little bit. We were missing some pretty easy tackles. Credit to them. They went in at halftime and came out … I wouldn’t say a different game plan, they just found a different way to attack us.”
The Pats attacked through the air and ground down the Falcons‘ defense, compiling an outrageous 95 plays, per Next Gen Stats. By contrast, Atlanta earned just 46 plays on offense.
Campbell dismissed the idea that youth played a factor in the Falcons defense — starting four rookies — crumbling down the stretch.
The rookie linebacker added he didn’t think the pass interference called on him to give the Patriots first-and-goal at the 2-yard-line in overtime was correct.
“I felt like I made a great play, but obviously the refs thought otherwise,” he said.
Despite an all-time gut-wrenching loss, Campbell said Quinn preached positive in the locker room after the game.
“Don’t get down on yourself,” he said of Quinn’s message. “We played a really good ballgame. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but I mean that’s life. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to go.”