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Column: Another grim chapter for Atlanta's sports history

ATLANTA — Because the ball spun slowly alongside the turf at Jerry’s International, the black-clad avid gamers backing away adore it used to be a are living grenade, Atlanta’s grim sports activities historical past flooded the awareness.

It used to be an unstoppable wave of distress, disgust and gagging on the maximum inopportune instances, all wrapped up in a nearly laughable inevitability.

There used to be by no means any doubt a Dallas participant would fall at the onside kick ahead of the Falcons did. There used to be by no means any doubt the Cowboys would entire a move to get into field-goal vary. There used to be by no means any doubt the game-winning kick would virtually completely break up the uprights, handing a workforce from Atlanta a nearly unfathomable defeat.

That’s the way in which we roll within the A-T-L.

I’m now not a local Atlantan, however just about the nearest factor to it, having been born about 80 miles away and shifting to the all of a sudden sprawling suburbs between 3rd and fourth grades. Rising up within the metro supposed finding out to handle wearing sadness from an overly early age, and accepting the belief that it might come over and time and again.

For the ones uncommon shining moments — Hank Aaron’s 715th homer stands above all else from my youth — there used to be a apparently unending succession of overmatched avid gamers, dimwitted coaches and bumbling entrance places of work.

Even if one thing apparently went proper, just like the Falcons incomes their first department identify in 1980, any pleasure would inevitably be snatched away, because it used to be on a frigid January afternoon when, at age 17, I sat within the nook of the tip zone at cookie-cutter Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium with my oldsters and brother for an NFC divisional playoff recreation, staring at the Birds squander a 24-10 result in the Dallas Cowboys within the fourth quarter.

I considered Danny White turning in the game-winning move to Drew Pearson a bit of over 40 years in the past as a brand new staff of Falcons someway discovered a method to practice within the footsteps in their ancestors, melting down in opposition to a brand new staff of Cowboys on Sunday.

The Falcons led 20-Zero within the first quarter after Dallas fumbled the ball away 3 times. They have been up 29-10 at halftime. After apparently weathering a comeback via the house workforce, they have been nonetheless up 39-24 with lower than five mins to move and 39-30 because the 2-minute caution went via.

The Cowboys scored a landing to chop it to 39-37, then covered up for an onside kick. This play used to be at all times a little bit of crapshoot, however beneath rule adjustments carried out ahead of the 2018 season to make stronger protection, it has turn out to be virtually inconceivable to execute effectively for the reason that kicking workforce can’t get a working get started or stack maximum of its avid gamers on one aspect of the sector.

However Dallas didn’t have any selection, so kicker Greg Zuerlein positioned the ball on its aspect on the 35-yard backyard line, now not even bothering with a tee, and despatched it spinning towards the Falcons avid gamers covered up throughout from him.

Whilst the Cowboys have been forbidden to fall at the ball till it traveled a minimum of 10 yards, the Falcons may’ve lined it any time they sought after. They have been definitely in place to do this, as 5 avid gamers hovered close to the ball — a minimum of 3 of them simply in place to scoop it up — neatly ahead of the desired distance.

However they all acted as even though they would by no means observed a rulebook, simply staring at the ball till it reached the 45. By the point they in the end pounced. C.J. Goodwin had gotten there first, giving the Cowboys a possibility to drag out the victory.

That they did. Dak Prescott finished a 24-yard move to CeeDee Lamb, putting in Zeurlein for the 46-yard discipline target as time expired to present Dallas a 40-39 victory.

“There’s not anything you’ll be able to say,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan moaned. “This one stings and it sucks.”

He may’ve been talking for such a lot of different Atlanta sports activities moments.

There used to be Jim Leyritz homering in opposition to the Atlanta Braves to show the tide within the 1996 International Sequence. There used to be the Falcons’ Eugene Robinson getting arrested the night time ahead of the 1999 Tremendous Bowl, to not point out franchise quarterback Michael Vick getting despatched to jail for working a dogfighting operation.

There used to be town shedding now not one however two NHL groups as a result of monetary woes. There used to be the Falcons squandering a 17-Zero lead at house within the 2013 NFC championship recreation. There used to be the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks getting swept in 4 instantly video games via the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers within the 2015 NBA Japanese Convention ultimate.

There used to be the Georgia Bulldogs giving up a protracted landing move in extra time to lose the 2018 nationwide championship recreation to Alabama (held in Atlanta, after all). There used to be the Braves getting bombarded with 10 first-inning runs within the decisive Sport five of closing 12 months’s NL Department Sequence in opposition to the Cardinals to take their record-tying 10th instantly postseason loss.

And, after all, there’s the granddaddy of all of them: The Falcons squandering a 28-Three lead overdue within the 3rd quarter of the 2017 Tremendous Bowl and shedding in extra time to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Regardless that there have been rapid comparisons on social media, the loss Sunday doesn’t come with regards to that Tremendous Bowl debacle in Houston, rather then each going on in Texas.

This used to be simplest Week 2 of the NFL season. The Falcons nonetheless have time to dance again from this one, even though there are certain to be a variety of questions on trainer Dan Quinn’s long term since he already used to be on shaky floor after back-to-back shedding seasons.

“You must get the message throughout that it’s a marathon,” Ryan mentioned, in search of any silver lining. “There’s no query this one stings and it hurts, however so much can occur. We have now 14 video games to move within the common season, so there’s a variety of time to get completed what we wish to get completed.”

The one factor they have accomplish to this point is changing into the rarest of footnotes in NFL historical past.

In step with the Elias Sports activities Bureau, 440 NFL groups had scored 39 issues in a recreation whilst committing no turnovers since the ones stats turned into to be had in 1933.

The ones groups had a checklist of 440—Zero.

On Sunday, the Falcons turned into the 441st workforce to do it.

Make that checklist 440-1.

That is the means we roll within the A-T-L.

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Paul Newberry is an Atlanta-based sports activities columnist for The Related Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963. His paintings may also be discovered at https://apnews.com/seek/paulnewberry

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Extra AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

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