We all have heard of the home field advantage, home court advantage, home cooking and now I introduce the hometown advantage. That’s exactly what it was for Eric Berry the Atlanta Native that plays defensive back for the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. The last time he was home during the season he was getting Chemotherapy Treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at Emory Hospital. His career was filled with uncertainty. Football for NFL Players it’s a job disguised as a game, but there is nothing more important than the game of life.
With the score tied at 13 and 48 seconds to the half, he picked off an errant Matt Ryan pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown in the end zone where his parents were sitting so he trotted over and gave mom the ball.
On giving his mother the game ball after pick six:
“I made my mind up before the game that I was going to give her the ball when I got it. But I try to give her whatever. It won’t amount to the things she has given me, and my dad as well. There were so many nights that I would cry on their shoulder, trying to make sense of everything that was going on, and they just kept telling to keep pressing on and that I would be back to play the game the way I want to play the game. And for it to happen; both of them supported me throughout the whole process. I can’t thank them enough, I can’t do enough to show my appreciation, so I just keep pushing and keep trying.”
Then late in the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan hit A Robinson on a 5-yard touchdown pass for what appeared to be the compliment to a game winning 10 play 80-yard drive that consumed 10:28. The score ATL 28 Chiefs 27 with 4:37 remaining in the game provided the ATL brass with a decision go for two to make the score 30 should the Chiefs get possession and get into scoring territory. A field goal would make the score 30-30.
Logic says go for two if you don’t get it you are still up by one. Then the games’ most controversial play a short pass to A. Hooper at the goal line. The wide receiver came off the line and raced into the end zone before he slanted toward the sideline. Berry focused inside towards the tight end and jumped in front of the pass making the game winning interception and raced 100 yards to the house where mom and dad was sitting in that same end zone this time he gave the ball to dad.
Growing up, my dad always told me the most important point of the game is the extra point. A lot of people take that play off; like I said it’s an opportunity to make something happen and I’m going to make the most of it, said Berry.
Sometimes it’s better to let do well do and not over think the game. Today there are computers on the sidelines compiling data, projecting tendencies’, and God knows what else. Then there is a time to be aggressive, assertive, or passive. Football is truly an emotional game that challenges one mentally and physically then when you throw in the emotions of going into the half tied at 13 or winning the game by one instead of losing by one. It’s easy for the Monday Morning Coach to question everything the decision to throw the ball with .48 on the clock going into half time instead of taking a knee to go in tied at 13 instead of 20-16 after your kicker hit a miraculous 59-yard field goal to close the half.
Going for two points made sense but the play calling leaves a lot to be desired which begs the question was it the play call or the player.
Matt Ryan on the two-point conversion attempt and Eric Berry’s return to flip the score:
“It was a poor play on my part. I expected combination coverage to the outside and Eric Berry did a good job of coming down and going to the tight end. It was a disappointing play and a bad play on my part. Ultimately, that was a tough one. I’m disappointed with it, but we’ll learn from it and try to be better moving forward.”
The game started well as if though it was scripted to get Julio going. He had been a little quiet the past couple of games using his presence to open things up for teammates. This one started with 3 shots of Julio for 11, 16, and 17 yards, a couple of shots of Devante and an ankle breaking move by Gamble to get in the end zone but it was called back for holding….A couple of plays later Devante was dancing in the end zone for the games’ first touchdown.
Kansas City came right back with a 4 play 72 yard drive that featured T. Kelce on two big play passes from A. Smith both deep left the first for 21 yards then a nice tight spiral bomb for 35 yards. It appeared they saw something on film that allowed them to go deep left. S. Ware got the glory and his name in the paper by running it in from 3 yards out for the touchdown.
Continuing with Julio, Matt Ryan targeted him again this time resulting in a 40 yard pick up on a pass interference call against an overly aggressive Eric Berry. The drive went well deep into the red zone down to the 4 yard line when J Houston sacked Ryan causing them to kick a successful field goal to make the score 10-6 in favor of Atlanta.
Atlanta added 22 yard field goal to make the score 13-6. The chiefs put together an 11 play 92 yard drive to tie the score at 13-13 before the debacle.
The play of the game was a fake punt by Kansas City on their first possession in the third quarter. They received to start the half drove down to the Atlanta 45 before the drive stalled. Then with a stroke of genius Andy Reid the Chiefs head coach rolled the dice on a hero or goat call. A Wilson lined up to in punt formation caught the snap and planted that right foot and went straight through the unsuspecting Falcon defense for a 55 yard touchdown run.
All of a sudden instead of 13-13 coming out of the half it’s 27-16 in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs at the 13:02 mark of the third quarter. The Falcon fans were totally shocked. On the other hand what a great hero or goat call by Andy Reid and staff. Hero because it worked, goat if it failed, however let’s look at the details. They stole the half time momentum with the Berry gifted interception. They were near mid field if they didn’t get it the Falcons would get the ball there and the Chiefs would still have the lead.
Sometimes you play for the immediate circumstances not projecting what could happen in the future. It’s a game of philosophy. There’s nothing wrong with both. Remember the pick two is fairly a new rule perhaps there was a mental lapse thinking it couldn’t be returned for a score.
Clearly if you are going to pass to attempt the two points you don’t throw it to the goal line you throw it into the end zone towards the corner, end line or sideline where your guy could get it if not the ball goes out of bound. If intercepted your guys would have time to react and make the tackle. In this case Berry had the ball in open field before anyone could react he was off to the races looking around as if though he couldn’t believe nobody was about to tackle him.
Gutsy, courageous, or bad calls sometimes there’s a thin line but that’s what makes a coach great and a team even greater it’s part of the fabric Dan Quinn is building in Atlanta. This is his second year and is s first time head coach from the defensive coordinators position with Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. We see the good and want that all the time, but we should all remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Being the head coach of an NFL Team isn’t easy example: Take a look at the Carolina Panthers a team that went to the Super Bowl last year with a regular season record of 15-1. That was a magical season where everything came together. This year they are 4-8. What happened? Meanwhile Tom Brady was suspended for four games his team won in his absence, he has returned with a vengeance leading the New England Patriots to a 10-2 record while becoming the NFL’s all-time leader in victories (201) surpassing his greatness Peyton Manning.
That kind of success is built over time and the right ingredients must be in place. The Falcons show just how good a team they can be or shall I step out and say WILL BE once they go through all of the difficult blocks of building character which leads to the teams’ identity. The one thing we know about the Falcons they will be aggressive, now I think it’s the intangible piece of knowing when to be and when not to be. And if you are take the lowest risk for the highest reward.
The Falcon fans were stunned by the emotion of being up by one to being down by one and losing by one when they had this one in the bag. Unfortunately this day belonged to the hometown hero Eric Berry of the visiting team. He is the only player in NFL History to have a pick-six and a pick-two in the same game.
The Kansas City Chiefs took this on 28-29. Next up for the Falcons is a trip out to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face the RAMS who has a host of issues