"I mean, it's however you guys want to interpret it as. Us as a team, we know what we have and what we did throughout the whole season and I wouldn't say the last quarter of that game is our legacy," Sanu said Friday on Good Morning Football. "We did what we had to do throughout the season to make it to the big stage and we played well. It just so happened it didn't go our way."
Sanu was understandably defensive of the Falcons, who blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots and lost the game in overtime. It was the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. After running back Tevin Coleman scored with 8:31 to go in the third quarter, giving the Falcons a 25-point lead, Sanu said the team felt like they had it wrapped up. However, the momentum quickly shifted.
"Most definitely," he said. "You're thinking 'OK we got this, let's keep doing what we're doing and trust the process.' Just go out there and do what we do. I just felt like momentum shifted and we weren't playing as aggressively as we usually do. It's just unfortunate."
Sanu, though, pointed to the extended halftime as part of the issue. This is a common refrain from players, who are used to a 15-minute break before matriculating back onto the field. The Super Bowl halftime lasts about an hour -- apparently long enough for complacency to set in.
"It definitely (affected us) because usually halftime is only like 15 minutes so when you're not on the field for an hour, it's like going to work out, having a great workout, sitting on the couch for an hour and then trying to work out again," he said.
Sanu refused to blame the loss on offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who drew intense scrutiny for his late-game play-calling. In lieu of milking the clock, Shanahan stayed aggressive.
"I mean, the thought (why aren't we running the ball?) crosses your mind, but as a player you do what the coach tells you to do," Sanu said. "He's called plays like that throughout the season all the time. He's been aggressive, we're an aggressive team, so we go out there and we do what we do."
Kudos to Sanu for answering the questions with a level head. Translated across any other profession, we would not expect a CEO to candidly talk about a failed merger every time he appears in public, nor would we expect the chef whose restaurant was destroyed by a zero-star review to be congenial about it. This has the potential to be a life-altering moment in time for every player on that Falcons team, but at the moment, they seem to be handling it far better than expected.
"It's gotten better," Sanu said of the lingering what ifs. "But there are times I wake up like..."