ATLANTA -- It was no doubt difficult.
Matt Ryan, the league's MVP, nearly brought a Lombardi Trophy to Atlanta. But Tom Brady and the New England Patriots had other plans, overcoming a 28-3 deficit to win Super Bowl LI in February.
Some of the iconic images after the loss captured Ryan as he was walking off the field, helmet still on. He walked into the tunnel, cameras in his face, confetti falling. He looked back, takes it all in, then walks off.
No one in the organization really wants to talk about the collapse. They're on to the 2017-18 season, which officially kicks off on Wednesday when the Falcons report to camp in Flowery Branch.
It's in the past. It's over. Move on.
However, Gatorade wanted to make a new ad campaign about overcoming defeat and turning it into victory. It would include athletes like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, other superstars who faced agonizing defeat before reaching victory.
It would end with the question, "You really want to know the secret to victory?" Ryan answers, "Defeat," while walking off the field of Super Bowl LI, before turning to him training with the Falcons.
Recreating the moments immediately after Super Bowl LI was not easy for Ryan.
"Sometimes to re-live those moments is a little bit difficult. It was one of those things where I think the messaging was spot on," Ryan told 11Alive.
He did the ad, and it's a popular commercial with more than three million views on YouTube. Ryan is pleased with how it turned out.
"I think it promotes a message that’s not only applicable to sports but to everybody. At certain times in your life, there’s going to be certain things that don’t go your way. " he said. "And it’s about learning from those experiences and getting better and being better for it."
The Falcons success last season cannot be forgotten, winning the NFC title with the most explosive offense in the league. They added pieces in the offseason on defense, such as Dontari Poe on the defensive line and rookie Takk McKinley, and retained just about everybody on the offense which set a franchise record in points last season.
Ryan likes the group the Falcons have put together, but knows there's work to be done. He's worked with guys individually throughout the offseason, a point of emphasis last year for him before camp. He believes it helped, and that it can help again this season.
"I feel like the group of guys that we have right now all are good at locking in when it’s time to get to work. I think that led to some of our success last year," he said. "The group we’ve assembled throughout the offseason that we have coming into training camp works the right way. But we’ve got to figure our own thing out, we’ve got to find a way to be the best team that we can be."
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