The Atlanta Falcons entered halftime of Super Bowl 51 with a commanding 21-3 lead over the New England Patriots in Houston at NRG Stadium, but the wheels fell off in the second half when they squandered momentum and Tom Brady mounted a comeback for the ages.
As it turns out, the Falcons' extended stay in the locker room during Lady Gaga's halftime show may have adversely affected their performance down the stretch.
Appearing on NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Friday, Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu said his team was forced to adjust after halftime ran longer than during a regular-season contest.
"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, per NFL.com's Conor Orr.
The Falcons led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter after Tevin Coleman nabbed a six-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan midway through the frame, but that was the last time they would score.
The Patriots proceeded to rip off 25 unanswered points, taking the Super Bowl to its first-ever overtime, and they never let the Falcons touch the ball in the extra session. Brady pieced together an efficient eight-play, 75-yard drive that James White capped off with a two-yard touchdown run.
Despite those hiccups and a disappointing result, Sanu assumed an optimistic point of view when taking stock of everything the Falcons accomplished in 2016.
"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," he said. "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."