The Falcons, leading 28-20 in the Super Bowl on Sunday, reached the Patriots 22-yard line with less than 5 minutes to play after a remarkable catch by Julio Jones.
At that point, all Atlanta probably had to do was run a few plays that didn't lose yardage, attempt a reasonable field goal using a pretty much automatic kicker, and watch the time melt away while New England pushed uphill in desperation against a two-score deficit.
If that set up sounds familiar, dear Vikings fans, it should. Eighteen years ago in the NFC title game, the Vikings led these very same Falcons by almost exactly the same score (27-20) and pushed into Atlanta territory in the closing minutes — probably needing just a field goal from a very accurate kicker to salt the game away.
We know what happened in next in both cases. And now Atlanta feels Minnesota's pain — and then some.
Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. email@example.com