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Dan Quinn: Lack of depth on D led to SB LI meltdown

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The Atlanta Falcons won't escape an epic Super Bowl collapse. The all-time choke job will overlay every aspect of this year's team and be recalled seasons down the road.

Dan Quinn could take the well-worn coach's path, declining to speak of his team folding versus the New England Patriots after earning a 28-3 lead with "we put it behind us" excuses and preaching about moving on by not reliving the nightmare.

Instead the Falcons are embracing the debacle. Quinn wore two black wristbands to the team's minicamp over the weekend, each reading: "Embrace The Suck," the motto they began using last offseason.

Quinn told the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jeff Schultz the wristbands weren't a reference to the Super Bowl loss, but a reminder of the difficulty that lies ahead going through the grind to return to the championship game. The way they lost only adds to the suck.

"Eat a crap sandwich with a smile," Quinn said of his approach. "This is going to be hard. Your choice: It's a victim's mentality or a warrior mentality. It's like, 'I know this run is going to be long, and it's going to be really hard. But here I go again.'"

While Kyle Shanahan and the offense took the brunt of the blame following the Super Bowl loss, Quinn's defense allowed the Patriots five straight scoring drives to close out the game. Three of those were 10-plus plays, marching 70-plus yards, including going 91 yards to tie the game in the final four minutes.

"It wasn't about one play," Quinn said. "Those (defensive series) are the ones I evaluated over and over. When you go back and sit through it over and over, you know, 'I damn sure can't get a do-over. But I can learn from it.' I won't apologize for how aggressive we play and our style and attitude of where we're headed. But I have learned from that experience."

When it was postulated that perhaps his young defense spit the bit in a big spot, Quinn disagreed. Instead he noted the lack of depth.

"That wasn't it," Quinn said of his young players folding under pressure. "The guys were gassed. We had never played in the 90s (snap count). We were not traumatized at all. You could tell there was nothing left in the tank. They would come to the sideline in the fourth quarter and nobody was talking because there was nothing left."

The Falcons still have the offense to return to the Super Bowl and made upgrades on defense this offseason, including first-round pick Takkarist McKinley.

Most teams suffer from a Super Bowl hangover after a loss. The Falcons' failure would suggest a season-long sickness. But with Quinn at the helm, perhaps Atlanta has a chance to change course.

"Stay with what's in front of us," Quinn said of Super Bowl talk. "Everybody (journalist) is going to want to keep going there, but I'm kind of going the other way. To get there, you've got to strain."

Along with straining comes embracing the suck.

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