LEADOFF: Collinsworth says Super Bowl rematch ‘not just another game’ for Falcons

The Falcons and Patriots will meet Sunday night in a rematch of Super Bowl LI.
The Falcons and Patriots will meet Sunday night in a rematch of Super Bowl LI.

Credit: John Spink/AJC

Credit: John Spink/AJC

Good morning. This is LEADOFF, an early look at Atlanta sports.

Cris Collinsworth, who was on the losing side in two Super Bowls as a Cincinnati Bengals receiver in the 1980s, will be in the broadcast booth Sunday night for the Falcons-Patriots rematch.

The NBC “Sunday Night Football” analyst discussed dealing with a Super Bowl loss, especially one as cruel as the Falcons’ loss after leading the Patriots 28-3 last February, on a conference call with reporters this week.

“… Everybody says the same thing, and the Falcons are going to tell us the exact same thing this week -- that, hey, we put it behind us and we're focused on this week and this year and all that,” Collinsworth said.

“But when you're playing a team that you had a 28-3 lead against, there's no way that during the course of the week that you're going to be able to completely put that out of your mind. And I can tell you that it will never go out of their minds. I'm 58 years old, and I don't think a day has gone by yet that I haven't thought about losing one of those two Super Bowls, if not both of them.

“I think if you're innately a competitive person, it will always grind away at you. And now you get a chance to go line up against this team again. Does it do anything to change the Super Bowl? No, it doesn't. But I think it has to bring out some emotion in you. It's not just another game. There's just no way possible it could be.”

Collinsworth watched Super Bowl LI from the stands in Houston last February. He called it “one of the most, if not the most remarkable game I've ever seen in my entire lifetime,  watching the Falcons fans celebrating their Super Bowl championship in the middle of the third quarter.”

“Obviously two different teams now than what they were then,” Collinsworth said. “But the emotions of that night were just so raw. It's going to create for such an interesting game (Sunday) and especially when you combine last year's Most Valuable Player in Matt Ryan and this year's guy who is playing as well as he always does in Tom Brady. You get it all.

“And plus, you get a little bit of what happened to these two teams a week ago that just sort of reinforces the story line … the Patriots with a big comeback against the Jets down 14-0 and we saw the Falcons blow a 17-0 lead against the Dolphins.

“So a lot of story lines going in.”

But you know which one is biggest.

The Falcons are looking ahead to Sunday??€™s Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots.

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