ATLANTA -- Stop us if you've heard this one before. The Falcons blew a lead in the second half to an AFC East team.
This time, it was a 17-0 lead, and it was to the Miami Dolphins. It wasn't the Super Bowl. It was just a regular season game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But any time the Falcons blow a lead in the next century, trolls will send out 28-3 memes and Falcons fans will bury their head in their hands.
The Falcons lost 20-17 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday for their second consecutive loss. This one stings for the Falcons not because the Dolphins have the worst offense in the NFL, are led by a former retired quarterback and have been in turmoil this week with one of their assistant coaches resigning after a video of him using a white powder surfaced.
No, this one burns because it happened seven days before their rematch with the New England Patriots.
The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI, and the Patriots won in overtime for Tom Brady's fifth Super Bowl title. But you already knew all of that...unfortunately.
Finishing games has been a big topic for the reigning NFC Championships this season. They were able to sneak away from Chicago with a win after nearly blowing a lead thanks to a dropped pass and a sack by Brooks Reed. A fingernail and a 10-second runoff helped the Falcons leave Detroit with a win. Their luck ran out two weeks ago against Buffalo, and it didn't get any better on Sunday. Although it had nothing to do with luck but tipped passes, a struggling offensive line and penalties.
"For us to be the team we know we can be, we’ve got to play more consistently for the whole time," head coach Dan Quinn said after the game. "It totally bums you out. You try and find what was the cause of not being able to finish like we wanted. And that’s what we’ll do."
Matt Ryan threw his sixth interception of the season on a drive Quinn said the team was going out to win the game. But Reshad Jones, a UGA alum and Atlanta native, picked off Ryan and the Dolphins were able to hold on to their 20-17 lead.
The offense stalled after scoring 17 points in the first half, and the Dolphins were able to score 20 unanswered points. Errors on both sides of the ball and special teams all contributed to the loss. Defensively, they couldn't stop Jay Ajayi, who had 26 carries for 130 yards.
It doesn't help the moral going into a hostile environment next week, Gillette Stadium.
"It's tough. We've experienced that feeling before in the Super Bowl," linebacker Vic Beasley said. "It's a learning experience."
Matt Ryan wasn't as willing to draw comparisons to the Falcons' game in Houston in February.
"I don’t go that far back in terms of thinking," Ryan said. "I think we need to score points offensively. It’s as simple as that."
The two words everyone in the locker room were using were "finishing" and "consistency."
"In our league you’ve got to go back and get ready to play again, and you’ve got to make the corrections first. So all the ones are teaching moments, but you don’t really get tested until you’re in the fire. So for us to not close today like we wanted to, that was disappointing because we were certainly ready to there at the end," he said.
Quinn is well aware he is about to be bombarded with questions throughout the week about Super Bowl LI. But he said that game has no bearing on how they prepare for Sunday night's game or in-game situations when they have leads.
"You can’t replay the game that was played in the Super Bowl, what we can do is control what we have now. For that one, it was a historic game. One that we didn’t get done," Quinn said. "We don’t look back to that one every time we’re ahead, or when we’re behind in any of that way. Our focus is 100 percent on now and who we are."
"It's just another game," safety Ricardo Allen said about the upcoming rematch. "If you start to look at games at different levels, that's when we mess up. That's when you mess up. We take every game the same."PHOTOS | Dolphins stun Falcons