ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
79°
Broken Clouds
H 94° L 75°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Current Conditions
    Broken Clouds. H 94° L 75°
  • cloudy-day
    90°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 94° L 75°
  • clear-day
    92°
    Evening
    Sunny. H 94° L 75°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Football

    Falcons fans have defaulted on payments for thousands of personal seat licenses since Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in 2017, essentially undoing about $30 million in sales, records show.  The Falcons said, however, that they continue to sell PSLs to new buyers and for the third consecutive year have no plans to put single-game tickets on sale to the general public.  Days before the first regular-season game was played at the new stadium in September 2017, the Falcons reported they had sold 57,040 seat licenses, which are one-time fees required for the right to buy season tickets. But by September 2018 that number had fallen to 50,408, according to a recent state audit report on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.  Falcons chief operating officer Greg Beadles said the latter figure — a decline of 6,632 — reflected defaults after the stadium opened but didn’t include new sales, including seat upgrades, made since then. GWCCA senior director of finance Janet Arsenault said the figure was provided by the Falcons. The Falcons haven’t disclosed a seat count on defaults since September 2018, but financial records indicate the defaults have continued. The GWCCA, which has a stadium oversight role, recorded $24.96 million at the end of fiscal year 2018 in allowance for “doubtful” PSL accounts, including $21.2 million in contracts that were in default as of June 30, 2018, according to the audit. The PSLs in default had risen to a total of $29.85 million “to write off” as of the end of last month, according to a quarterly report provided by the Falcons to the GWCCA. The $29.85 million represented the original sales price of those PSLs ($37.48 million) minus the amounts previously paid toward them ($7.63 million). Buyers are in default if they don’t purchase Falcons season tickets by the deadline each year or, in cases where the seat licenses were financed, if they don’t make installment payments. When PSLs are in default, the Falcons can re-sell them to new buyers.  According to the GWCCA, the Falcons had sold $273 million worth of seat licenses as of Sept. 1, 2017, not including interest, and some $236 million of those sales remained active as of the end of last month. Beadles said the Falcons’ general policy has been to not take legal action against account holders who default on seat license contracts.  “We typically try to avoid that,” he said. “I won’t say that we would not do that, depending on the circumstances, but typically that is not our approach.”  He said the Falcons are successfully re-selling PSLs that buyers default on, although the team didn’t provide specific figures on replacement sales.  New sales contracts haven’t been run through the GWCCA since September 2017. “This coming season, we’ll have more PSL holders and more season-ticket holders for the Falcons than we did in 2017,” Beadles said.  He said the Falcons will maintain their policy of not selling single-game seat tickets to the general public, a policy that has been in force since Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened. During the Falcons’ initial push to sell personal seat licenses, which ranged from $500 to $45,000, a sales pitch was that the only way to get seats directly from the team would be through season tickets, all of which require PSLs.  Mercedes-Benz Stadium has a capacity of more than 72,000 for Falcons games. Although some seats are excluded from the seat-license program, including those in suites and those set aside for players’ families, visiting teams, sponsors and other purposes, the inventory of sellable seats clearly exceeds the number of PSLs and season tickets sold. The Falcons said they have made up the difference with group sales to military, civic, youth and corporate organizations.  “We’re actively selling to groups and getting people in the building that don’t have PSLs as long as they’re part of a group like that,” Beadles said.  Individual buyers have access to tickets for all games on the secondary market, where tickets are resold by some PSL holders at prices that fluctuate depending on supply and demand.  The Falcons sell a limited number of standing-room-only tickets. As the Falcons had a disappointing 7-9 record on the field last season, they struggled to keep seats filled. The team announced an average of 72,898 tickets distributed per game, but the actual attendance was almost 9,000 fewer per game — an average of 64,022. At the final home game of the season, there were 15,614 no-shows.   Beadles said he doesn’t believe the number of PSL defaults is atypical for NFL teams with seat-license programs.  “A lot of times in the first year, you see some churn,” he said. “Those are typically in the lower-priced PSLs, where people don’t have as much skin in the game. It’s fairly normal.”
  • After trying to trade up, the Falcons retained the 14th pick in the draft and selected Boston College offensive guard Chris Lindstrom on Thursday night. “It’s a dream come true, it’s a special night,” Lindstrom said via telephone.  Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver went to the Bills with the ninth pick. Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins went to the Dolphins with the 13th, leaving the Falcons to select an offensive lineman, who some draft analysts considered a second-day (second- or third-round) pick.  » Mark Bradley: Reasons to like Lindstrom pick» Draft Bio: More to know about Lindstrom The Falcons sent a several executives to Massachusetts to work out Lindstrom two weeks ago.  “It was a great workout,” Lindstrom said. “I had a great relationship with the staff and everyone. Atlanta was definitely a place that I wanted to go. I’m just thankful for this opportunity.” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, coach Dan Quinn, assistant general manager Scott Pioli, offensive line coach Chris Morgan and assistant offensive line coach Bob Kronenberg were at the workout. Lindstrom was not told if he would be considered a starter.  “I’m just trying to help the team, come in and work,” Lindstrom said. He was asked, “Can you start in the NFL?” “I’m just trying to come in and work right now and try to be a great player,” Lindstrom said.  Lindstrom played mostly on the right side for the Eagles.   “I’m comfortable at both (right and left guard),” Lindstrom said. “A lot of my game snaps have been at right (guard).” Lindstrom described his style of play. “I’m just a hard-nosed, dependable and accountable guy,” Lindstrom said. “I’m trying to finish people and every play, do my job.”  The Falcons’ line was porous last season as they gave up 108 quarterback hits, a career-high for Matt Ryan, and were 31st in stuffed-runs for no gain or losses. The Falcons signed guards James Carpenter, Jamon Brown and Adam Gettis in free agency.  The last time the Falcons picked a guard in the first round was in 1985, when they selected Bill Fralic second overall. Since 2008, 14 guards have been drafted in the first round, including three 14th or higher. Quenton Nelson was selected sixth last season by the Colts. He improved the Colts’ line and helped them return to the playoffs. In 2013, Jonathan Cooper was selected seventh overall by the Cardinals and was a bust. Also in 2013, Chance Warmack was selected 10th overall by the Titans.  The pick was not well-received by the fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it was announced to a crowd of season ticket holders.  Lindstrom was an all-ACC pick and made 48 consecutive starts for Boston College, the same school that produced Ryan.  “He’s come up to speak to the team a few times,” Lindstrom said. “He’s a great ambassador to what it means to be a B.C. man and I’m thankful that I’ll be able to play with him.” Some will contend that this pick was a reach and bring up the Falcons’ record for drafting linemen under Dimitroff. “To the numbers, I think this is a big year,” Dimitroff said at the NFL combine last month when discussing the linemen in the draft. “It’s not only a year for tackles, this year guards are going to be falling into the first round. There could be a run on seven to 10 potentially. Not only tackles, but also potential guards.” The drafting of guards in the first round has traditionally been frowned upon. But Dimitroff believes that times have changed.  “Old-time theory is that you would never take a guard that early,” Dimitroff said at the combine. “But now, we’ve talked about it. You’ve seen the change over the last 10 years where if an organization feels that a player can be a top player for them for years to come and hopefully start from Day 1, they are more apt to go after someone at 15, 25 or 30 where they might not have before.” The Falcons need the help. They had six different players start at guard last season.  “I’m a lot more open to that now that I ever would have been,” Dimitroff said. “Just like the discussion about whether a team should move up 21 spots to go after a receiver. Things have changed.” Dimitroff knew drafting a guard would be questioned. “Most people understand that there are some really good linemen out there,” Dimitroff said. “If there are number of guards there or a position and a team thinks they can get them at a better value, maybe a little bit later in the second round or the middle of the second round, then that can be beneficial as well.”
  • The Falcons have a perfectly placed bye week, but will play three important NFC South games over 12 days, including a game against the arch-rival New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving, for the second consecutive season. The Falcons open the season at 1 p.m. Sept. 8 at Minnesota.  The Falcons face the Eagles in their home opener at 8:20 p.m. Sept. 15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  The team’s bye week comes after eight games, but when they return from the bye week, they play five consecutive games against NFC South teams, the middle three in a period of 11 days. The Falcons, after a 7-9 record last season, don’t have a “Monday Night Football” appearance.   Here’s a look at the Falcons’ 2019 schedule:  Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8 at Vikings, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Minnesota Vikings:  A year after playing in the NFC title game, the Vikings were 8-7-1 with new quarterback Kirk Cousins at the controls. Coach Mike Zimmer wants to lean more heavily on running back Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack. Wide receiver Adam Thielen has blossomed into one of the NFL’s top receivers and route-runners. After initially deciding to join the Jets, linebacker Anthony Barr came to his senses and returned to the Vikings. He leads a stout defensive unit.  Last meeting: Vikings won 14-9 on Dec. 3, 2017 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Overall series: Vikings lead 18-10.  Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15 vs. Eagles, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)  > Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are coming off a 9-7 season. They earned a wild-card berth and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs before losing to the Saints. Nick Foles, who guided them to their Super Bowl LII victory over the Patriots, signed a lucrative deal with Jacksonville. Carson Wentz is firmly entrenched as the franchise quarterback. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson re-signed with his old team and gives them a deep threat. Defensive end Brandon Graham was retained, and the Eagles signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson and defensive end Vinny Curry to buttress the defensive line.  Last meeting: Eagles won 18-12 on Sept. 6, 2018, at Lincoln Financial Field. Overall series: Eagles lead 17-13-1. Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22 at Colts, 1 p.m. (CBS)  >  Indianapolis Colts: With his return to good health, quarterback Andrew Luck guided the Colts to a 10-6 record and back to the playoffs. They beat the Texans in the AFC wild-card round before losing to the Chiefs in the divisional round. Luck’s top targets include wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron. The Colts added former Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess and former Chiefs sackmaster Justin Houston in free agency.  Last meeting: Colts won 24-21 on Nov. 22, 2015, at the Georgia Dome. Overall series: Colts lead 14-2. Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29 vs. Titans, 1 p.m. (CBS)  > Tennessee Titans: The Titans have posted three consecutive 9-7 seasons and plan to continue to lean heavily on running back Derrick Henry. Two of those 9-7 seasons came under Mike Mularkey, who now is the Falcons’ tight ends coach. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is 27-28 after four seasons as the starter. The Titans added wide receiver Adam Humphries, defensive end Cameron Wake and guard Rodger Saffold in free agency.  Last meeting: Falcons won 10-7 on Oct. 25, 2015, at Nissan Stadium. Overall series: Tied 7-7. Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6 at Texans, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Houston Texans: With Deshaun Watson at the controls, the Texans were 11-5 and returned to the playoffs last season. He completed 68.5 percent of his passes and threw 26 touchdowns passes. Dynamic wide receiver D’Andre Hopkins is his top target. The Texans placed the franchise tag on defensive end/linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans are looking to add more weapons to the offense for Watson in the draft.   Last meeting: Falcons won 48-21 on Dec. 4, 2015, at the Georgia Dome. Overall series: Tied 2-2. Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13 at Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. (Fox)  > Arizona Cardinals:  The Cardinals elected to fire Steve Wilks after one season and go with a college coach who had a losing record (35-40) in Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals signed Falcons castoffs Robert Alford (cornerback) and Brooks Reed (defensive end) in free agency. Also, former Ravens defensive end/outside linebacker Tyrell Suggs landed with the Cardinals.  Last meeting: Falcons won 40-14 on Dec. 16, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Overall series: Tied 15-15.  Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20 vs. Rams, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Los Angeles Rams: The Rams were 13-3 last season and lost in Super Bowl LIII. The Rams are counting on running back Todd Gurley’s left knee returning to good health. The defense is led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The Rams added former Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and six-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle.  Last meeting: Falcons won 26-13 on Jan. 6, 2018 in the playoffs, at the Los Angeles Coliseum.  Overall series: Rams lead 47-28-2.  Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27 vs. Seahawks, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks were 10-6 last season and lost in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs. Linebacker K.J. Wright and guard D.J. Fluker were re-signed, while the team met its April 15 deadline to work out a long-term deal with quarterback Russell Wilson. He signed a four-year, $140 million deal to remain in Seattle.  Last meeting: Falcons won 34-31 on Nov. 20, 2017, at CenturyLink Field.  Overall series: Seahawks lead 10-6.  Week 9: Bye week Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10 at Saints, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > New Orleans Saints: In 2019, the Saints will seek to rebound from their horrific loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship game. The missed defensive pass-interference call led to a rule change. Quarterback Drew Brees returns for his 14th season with the Saints and 19th in the NFL. He passed for 3,992 yards in 2018, his lowest total since joining the Saints. Running back Mark Ingram signed with Baltimore in free agency. Also, defensive end Alex Okafor left in free agency. Center Max Unger and tight end Ben Watson elected to retire. Former Saints starting defensive tackle Tyeler Davison signed with the Falcons. The Saints signed tight end Jared Cook, running back Latavious Murray, returner Marcus Sherels and guard Nick Easton.  Last meeting: Saints won 31-17 on Nov. 22, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Overall series: Falcons lead 51-48. The Falcons have lost the past three meetings, and coach Dan Quinn is 3-5 against the Saints.   Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17 at Panthers, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Carolina Panthers: The Panthers, who are looking to rebound from a 7-9 season, will be without former linebacker Thomas Davis, the former Georgia star, for the first time since 2005. He signed with the Chargers in free agency. The Panthers also moved on from wide receiver Devin Funchess. The Panthers added former Falcons linebacker Bruce Irvin and former Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan in free agency. Quarterback Cam Newton is coming off shoulder surgery.  Last meeting: Falcons won 24-10 on Dec. 23, 2018, at Bank of America Stadium.  Overall series: Falcons lead 30-18.  Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24 vs. Buccaneers, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Tampa Bay Bucs: Former Arizona coach Bruce Arians was hired to replace Dirk Koetter and has assembled a fine coaching staff. Arians, who has a fine reputation for developing quarterbacks, will get a chance to help salvage Jameis Winston’s career. Koetter returned to his old job as offensive coordinator for the Falcons. The Bucs lost wide receiver Adam Humphries (Tennessee) and linebacker Kwon Alexander (San Francisco) in free agency. They added former Cardinals safety/linebacker Deone Bucannon. The biggest news has been the awkward good-bye to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. “We’re going to win, and we’re going to win now,” Arians said. “I mean, don’t be afraid of it. Everybody is always riding the fence. Jump in the pool. It’s going to be all right.”  Last meeting: Falcons won 34-32 on Dec. 30, 2018, at Raymond James Stadium.  Overall series: Falcons lead 27-24 and have won the past five games.  Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 28 vs. Saints, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)  > New Orleans Saints Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8 vs. Panthers, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Carolina Panthers  Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15 at 49ers, 4:25 p.m. (Fox) > San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are coming off a disappointing 4-12 season under coach Kyle Shanahan. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will try to make it back from season-ending ACL knee surgery. The 49ers have a rising star in tight end George Kittle, who caught 88 passes for 1,377 yards last season and was named to the Pro Bowl. The 49ers signed former Falcons running back Tevin Coleman and linebackers Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford in free agency.  Last meeting: Falcons won 41-13 on Dec. 18, 2016, at the Georgia Dome. Overall series: 49ers lead 46-30-1. Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22 vs. Jaguars, 1 p.m. (Fox)  > Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars, after reaching the AFC Championship game the season before, had a disappointing 5-11 record last season. They finally parted ways with Blake Bortles and signed Foles. With just some solid quarterback play, this talented roster could forge a quick turnaround.    Last meeting: Falcons won 23-17 on Dec. 20, 2015, at EverBank Field. Overall series: Tied at 3-3. Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29 at Buccaneers, 1 p.m. (Fox) > Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Falcons owner Arthur Blank has sold a 10 percent share of the team to two current limited partners and one new limited partner, a team spokesman confirmed. The NFL owners, who are gathered in Phoenix for the annual spring league meeting, approved the transaction Monday. The deal is estimated to be worth $300 million of the franchise’s worth, which is projected at $3 billion. The NFL Finance Committee and full ownership has approved the private transaction that transfers a minority percentage of the Falcons’ ownership to one new limited partner, Alan Kestenbaum, and to two existing limited partners: Doug Hertz and Ron Canakaris.  The other limited partners include Warrick Dunn, Derek Smith, Ed Mendel and Brian Barker. Kestenbaum, a Canadian Steel company chief executive officer, was a bidder for the Carolina Panthers last season. The Panthers were sold for $2.2 billion to David Tepper.  Kestenbaum has more than 30 years of experience in the metals and mining production, trading, distribution and finance business, according to Stelco’s website. “He has extensive investing and operating experience in the natural resources sectors as well as a successful track record in turnarounds and restructurings,” according to his bio on the website.  Blank remains the team’s principal owner and retains a clear majority of ownership. “It’s a relatively minor transaction,” the spokesman said.  John A. Williams, a seminal Georgia developer who was a limited partner of the franchise since 2008, died suddenly in April 2018. The three limited partners are purchasing all of Williams’ former shares in the team.  Williams, 75, founded an iconic Atlanta company, Post Properties, in 1970. It had more than 30,000 apartments. He took Post Properties public as an REIT in 1993 and left the company in 2003. Blank bought the Falcons in 2002 for $545 million.  In April 2018, Forbes valued the team at $2.6 billion. The Falcons’ valuation increased with the opening of the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, site of the 2019 Super Bowl. The Falcons’ local NFL revenue was up 70 percent.  The team’s low concession prices have been a hit with fans, some of whom had to purchase personal seat licenses — for as high as $45,000 — for the right just to buy tickets. Since Blank acquired the Falcons, the team has made the playoffs eight times in 17 seasons.  Three years before Blank purchased the Falcons, the club averaged about 37,000 season ticket holders per year. Since 2002, the Falcons have never sold fewer than 50,000 season tickets in any year. Additionally, during the same period, the club sold out 110 of 112 regular season games and closed out the former Georgia Dome with a streak of eight consecutive sellout seasons. However, the Falcons announced average attendance of 72,898 at their eight regular-season home games last season, but actually drew almost 9,000 fewer per game to the stadium — an average of 64,022. Three times during a disappointing season, the Falcons’ real attendance was more than 11,000 below the announced figure. For the home finale, the crowd was 15,614 fewer than announced. The team announces tickets distributed verses an actual turnstile count of fans in the building.  
  • The Falcons announced Wednesday afternoon that they decided not to pick up the 2019 option on kicker Matt Bryant.  Bryant, who was with the team for 10 seasons, announced earlier in the day that he would be cut Wednesday. “I was informed last night that the team was moving on from my services and that I would be released,” Bryant wrote on Twitter. “I want to say thank you to all (of) the fans that have stood with me and my family during our time here.” Bryant, who will turn 44 in May, said he doesn’t plan to retire.  “Matt Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest Falcons of all time,” owner Arthur Blank said in a statement released by the team. “He is the leading scorer in the history of the team with 1,122 points and made countless memorable and game-winning kicks. His reliability and dependability were unmatched, and he has been unflappable in pressure-filled moments. “Matt has represented our organization and city so well on and off the field by living our core values through hundreds of hours of community service. He was rightfully recognized as our Walter Payton Man of the Year in both 2013 and 2014. We are deeply grateful for his contributions to the Atlanta Falcons and wish Matt, his wife, Melissa, and their children all the best in the future.”  The Falcons can get cheaper at the position by keeping Giorgio Tavecchio, the injury replacement for Bryant last season who kicked field goals of 50 and 56 yards in the team’s 23-20 victory over the Giants. “Matt Bryant is a true competitor and one of the most dependable players I have ever worked with,” coach Dan Quinn said. “He proved that time and time again through his focused approach and demeanor. Moves like this are always difficult because we know how much he meant to this brotherhood and this city. We thank him for his contributions to the team.”  The move creates $2.8 million in cap space for the Falcons.  Bryant signed a three-year contract worth $10.5 million March 5. He was set to make $2.45 million next season.  “I am extremely grateful for everything that Matt Bryant has done for this organization over the last 10 years,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “There is no doubt he is one of the all-time great Falcons as he’s been an integral part of our success. This was a difficult decision but one that was necessary for us to move forward into 2019. We have the utmost respect for the person and the player that Matt is, and we wish he and his family the best going forward.” The most memorable field goal in Bryant’s tenure with the Falcons might be the 49-yarder that gave the Falcons a 30-28 victory over Seattle in the divisional round of the 2012 playoffs. It was the Falcons’ first playoff win since 2004. Bryant’s 1,717 career points rank fifth among the NFL’s all-time active points leaders. Bryant also made 388 field goals over his career,  which ranks fourth among the active field-goal leaders. He also scored more than 100 points in a single season 10 times during his career – only 17 other players have accomplished this feat 10 or more times.
  • The 2019 Super Bowl had the lowest ratings for the annual game in more than a decade. Although still a fairly high score, the game averaged a 44.9 rating in the 56 markets measured by Nielsen, the Los Angeles Times reported. That rating is down 5 percent from last year and the lowest since 2008. >> Read more trending news  According to Nielsen data, 98.2 million viewers tuned in to the big game. CBS, which aired the game for the first time since 2006, counted streaming platform viewers, putting the total at 100.7 million. That number is still down from the 105.4 million viewers who watch on all platforms in 2018. Deadline reported that last year’s game was seen by 103.4 million viewers. CBS sold 30-second ads for $5.25 million each on average. The network expected more than 100 million viewers, a number that has been exceeded by every Super Bowl since 2010, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout with more accurate ratings and stats.
  • This may have just become the best Super Bowl predictor ... ever: how Nick Saban does in title games affects the fortunes of his mentor, Bill Belichick. Saban was the defensive coordinator to Belichick’s Cleveland Browns teams from 1991-94.  Since Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa in 2007, whenever the Crimson Tide have played in a semifinal or national championship game AND LOST, the New England Patriots have won the Super Bowl a few weeks later. This year’s championship run was no exception. Alabama was trounced by Clemson in the College Football Playoffs Championship Game in January and, right on schedule, the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl — a 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This is how things have played out:  2009-10  • Alabama: Wins BCS National Championship game, 37-21, vs. Texas Longhorns• New England: Loses Wild Card game, 33-14, to the Baltimore Ravens  2011-12  • Alabama: Wins BCS National Championship game, 21-0, vs. LSU Tigers • New England: Loses Super Bowl, 21-17, to the N.Y. Giants  2012-13  • Alabama: Wins BCS National Championship game, 42-14, vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish• New England: Loses the AFC championship game, 28-13, to the Ravens  2014-15  • Alabama: Loses the College Football Playoff semifinal (Sugar Bowl), 42-35, to Ohio State Bukeyes• New England: Wins the Super Bowl, 28-24, vs. the Seattle Seahawks  2015-16  • Alabama: Wins the College Football Playoff National Championship game, 45-40, vs. Clemson • New England: Loses AFC championship game, 20-18, to the Denver Broncos 2016-17  • Alabama: Loses the College Football Playoff National Championship game, 35-31, to Clemson • New England: Wins Super Bowl, 34-28, vs. the Atlanta Falcons  2017-18  • Alabama: Wins College Football Playoff National Championship game, 26-23 (OT), vs. Georgia Bulldogs • New England: Loses Super Bowl, 41-33, to the Philadelphia Eagles  2018-19  • Alabama: Loses College Football Playoff National Championship game, 44-16, to Clemson • New England: Wins Super Bowl, 13-3, vs. the Rams in Atlanta
  • The New England Patriots won Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta over the Los Angeles Rams. Their sixth title win cemented their legacy in more than a few ways: The Sixers The New England Patriots (6-5) are now tied the Pittsburgh Steelers (6–2) as the franchise with the most Super Bowl wins with six. The Patriots secured their sixth Super Bowl triumph in nine appearances with Tom Brady as their quarterback and Bill Belichick as their coach.  With his sixth title, Brady surpasses former Cowboys and 49ers pass rusher Charles Haley as the player with most Super Bowl victories. Haley has five victories. Belichick, the oldest Super Bowl winning coach at 66, now has eight Super Bowl titles (six as head coach, two as a defensive coordinator). Margin of victory It was the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever, 13-3. But it was the Patriots’ largest Super Bowl victory. The 10-point margin of victory is the Patriots’ largest in their last nine Super Bowl appearances. In all their previous appearances the Patriots biggest win was 6 points (over the Falcons in 2017) and their biggest loss was 8 points (to the Eagles in 2018). Here are the Patriots Super Bowl scores. Winning games in bold: 2002 - Patriots 20, Rams 17 2004 - Patriots 32, Rams 29 2005 - Patriots 24, Eagles 21 2008 - Giants 17, Patriots 14 2012 - Giants 21, Patriots 17 2015 - Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 2017 - Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (OT) 2018 - Eagles 41, Patriots 33 2019 - Patriots 13, Rams 3 Lose one, win one Eleven years after falling one win short of matching Miami's undefeated season, New England matched another Dolphins Super Bowl feat. The Patriots became the first team since those famed Dolphins to follow a loss in the Super Bowl with a championship the very next year. The Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL’s championship game last season. Over the past 20 seasons, nine Super Bowl losers have failed to even make the playoffs the next year. Another four made the playoffs but lost their first game. Not a single one returned to the Super Bowl. Until the Patriots this season. Old man Brady At 41 years, 184 days, Tom Brady became the oldest quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. Brady dethroned Peyton Manning as the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Manning won a Super Bowl as the leader of the Broncos in 2015 at 39 days, 320 days old. Young man Michel With a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Sony Michel set a rookie record most postseason touchdowns with six. It was the game’s lone touchdown. He is the second rookie over the last three decades to score a rushing touchdown in the Super Bowl. The last was the Ravens’ Jamal Lewis in the 2001 Super Bowl. Record set As disappointing as the score was, here are the six records 13-3 made for the Super Bowl: • Fewest points, game, both teams: 16• Fewest points, game, winning team: 13 (Patriots)• Fewest points through three quarters, both teams: 6 • Fewest touchdowns, game, both teams: 1• Fewest PATs, game, both teams: 1• Fewest kickoff returns, game, both teams: 2
  • Julian Edelman once again proved to be a pest for a defense. The Patriots wide receiver finished with 10 catches, on 12 targets, for 141 yards and was the game MVP in the Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The 5-foot-9, 190 pounder had seven catches and 96 yards in the AFC Championship game win over the Chiefs. He also had catches for 151 yards in the divisional playoff win over the Chargers. Edelman accounted for most of the Patriots’ first-half offense. The wide receiver had seven catches, on eight targets, for 93 yards through two quarters. He accounted for 58 percent of the passing offense (160 yards) and 48 percent of the total offense (195 yards). He had nine catches and 128 yards through three quarters. Super Bowl record In this Super Bowl, of course there was record for longest punt. The Rams’ Johnny Hekker, on his eighth consecutive punt, kicked one that went 65 yards. It topped the previous mark of 64 yards by Patriots punter Ryan Allen in Super Bowl XLIX. Bad start Tom Brady’s first pass of Super Bowl LIII was intercepted. After the Patriots started the game with four consecutive runs, that netted 27 yards, Brady had a pass intended for Chris Hogan tipped and picked off by Rams linebacker Cory Littleton. It ended the drive at the Rams’ 27-yard line. Injured The Patriots lost defensive back Patrick Chung to a right arm injury early in the third quarter. He left for the locker room with an air cast on the injured arm. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game. He later returned to the sideline to cheer on teammates. Chung was injured on a tackle of Rams running back Todd Gurley. Attendance The NFL announced an attendance of 70,081 for the game. The total figure accounts for several sections used for auxiliary media  seating. Coin toss Atlanta icons and civil-rights leaders the Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., congressman John Lewis and ambassador Andrew Young took part in the opening coin toss. King did the honors of tossing the coin, which landed on tails in favor of the Rams. They deferred the kickoff to the second half. Gladys goes under and over The long notes put her over. Maybe. The over/under for Gladys Knight’s rendition of the national anthem was set at 1 minutes, 50 seconds. Knight’s rendition was timed at 1 minute, 49 seconds after the end of the first “brave.” After a pause and a second “brave” the rendition was timed at 1 minute, 53 seconds. Some controversy ensued. Some bookmakers declared the under, others the over. The Super Bowl is the most heavily bet event of the year. One of the more popular prop best is the time of the national anthem.
  • Among the thousands of images left behind by America’s biggest sporting event, a few live on as indelible. During this week leading up to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, we look back daily on a select precious moment and appreciate the story behind it. Final is a seven-part series.   Certain images just bring a smile. Puppies. A field of wildflowers. A Key West sunset. A fat guy having fun in the end zone. Who doesn’t like that? Maybe that’s why the sight of William Perry – not nicknamed The Fridge just because he was so cool – spiking the football in the end zone after a garbage-time touchdown in Super Bowl XX became such a keepsake. That a 380-pound man (give or take a biscuit) could steamroll his way through a thoroughly downtrodden defense on a one-yard keeper was hardly a revelation. But everything Perry did, like the man himself, was big. He was XL all the way (talking size here, not roman numerals). He had arrived in New Orleans as one of the biggest stars of the carnival midway that was the 1985 Chicago Bears, if for his personality as much as his play. More on the series » 1967 Super Bowl: A cigarette and a Fresca » 1998 Super Bowl: John Elway goes helicopter » 2008 Super Bowl: The helmet catch » 1973 Super Bowl: Who stole my watch?» 1969 Super Bowl: The poolside guarantee» 1979 Super Bowl:  A rare drop at the wrong time That team played ferocious, voracious defense – Perry’s primary responsibility. But it also had a gift for diversion. Those Bears cut a Super Bowl Shuffle music video before actually winning a Super Bowl (recorded in fact in December, one day after their only loss of the season). Quarterback Jim McMahon mooned a news helicopter during that Super Bowl week in New Orleans. And Perry, with the combination of unnatural athleticism for a barn door of his size and a big, gap-toothed smile, was the designated phenomenon of the bunch.  A first-round draft pick out of Clemson in 1985, Perry did not exactly wow the Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan at the time. But head coach Mike Ditka conceived of a gimmick to use the big fella at fullback near the goal line, like a tank leading infantry. And once in a great while, he just might carry the ball, too.  This is how long ago Super Bowl XX was: It was so long ago that it was before the Patriots knew how to do Super Bowls. And against these Bears, whose defense gave them reason to be considered among the best teams of all time, New England was tragically overmatched. The Bears would overwhelm the Pats, 46-10, in the second biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. It was one big Chicago party from start to finish that included, yes, a Perry touchdown run from a yard out with the Bears already leading 37-3. That was kind of the unofficial coup de grace of this rout. But this fun and frivolity had a price. Lost in Perry’s frolic was a slight that left a lasting mark on a Bears great, a real running back. The fact that the Fridge would have a Super Bowl touchdown run on his resume but that Sweetness – Walter Payton – wouldn’t is almost unfathomable. The late Payton, after whom the NFL Man of the Year award is named, and the second-leading all-time career rushing leader, was the unhappiest of Bears after that championship win. OK, maybe we did find the one person who didn’t see the joy in a fat guy celebrating in the end zone. The only Bears player that the Patriots stopped that day was Payton, who on 22 carries had but 60 more rushing yards than Perry. And at the end, the proud back believed he should have had at least the opportunity to score from the 1-yard line ahead of an oversized curiosity (the Bears, it should be noted, also scored on runs of one and two yards by McMahon).  Witnesses remembered Payton being visibly upset in the Bears locker room after the game. He, in fact, retreated to the training room and had to be coaxed out for interviews. Later, at the Pro Bowl, McMahon said, “When they called the play for Perry to go in, I should have just ignored it and given the ball to Walter anyway.” “If anybody deserved it, he did,” said McMahon of the Bears first draft pick of 1975 who ran hard through seven losing Bears seasons on his way to that one and only Super Bowl appearance. After what should have been the frosting atop a Hall of Fame career, Payton “was crushed,” a friend told Jeff Pearlman, the author of the biography “Sweetness.”  Years later Ditka, at a banquet in which he was receiving another award named after his running back said, “I can stand up here now and tell you the greatest regret I ever had was when Walter didn’t score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.” Alas, there are no second takes in the Super Bowl, no chances to rewrite the script, no photoshopping the lasting image.