The Atlanta Falcons shocked the NFL world by winning the NFC Championship and advancing to their first Super Bowl since 1998.
Needless to say, the city of Atlanta, which hasn’t won a world championship since 1995, is beyond excited.
“It is – and in so many different ways,” Atlanta’s 92.9 The Game host Carl Dukes said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “The city is on fire. It’s lit. And more importantly, I think this may be a change in the sports culture in Atlanta. It’s weird to say that because when you start talking about championships, whether it’s New York or Boston – there are teenagers that are growing up right now in Boston (who) don’t know anything but playoffs and championships. They have no idea that the Patriots weren’t good in the ’90s. So from Atlanta’s standpoint, yeah, we’ve had a World Series winner in the Braves, who went to four. But they won one, and that was in ’95, so it’s been 20 years or so. More importantly, the ’98 team that went to the Super Bowl, there was such a distraction with Eugene Robinson and all that stuff that happened there. It’s just hard to even look at this. This is different. The vibe is different. The way that Atlanta and I think the state of Georgia is responding is different. So I think there’s a turn that’s happening here, and if they win it, it’s only going to get better.”
Dukes, for one, didn’t see this run coming. Neither did a lot of Falcons fans.
“No, no, we came into this season saying, ‘We’re going to be young on defense, we don’t know if we’re going to be able to stop anybody, and the offense is a question mark,’” Dukes said. “In Kyle Shanahan’s second year, everybody said, ‘Okay, listen. Two things are going to happen here: If the offense is as bad as it was last year or if Matt plays as bad as he did last year, Shanahan has to go. The other thing that has to happen is Shanahan has to be more forgiving and understand he’s got to put Matt Ryan in a place where he can be successful. Is he willing to do that? Stop rolling him out. He’s a drop-back quarterback.’ So we were more worried about those things than what ultimately ended up transpiring. So nobody really could predict it because the defense was going to be young and we really didn’t know if Matt was going to be any good in the second year of Shanahan’s offense. He was great. Shanahan’s play-calling has been great. It’s gotten him a head-coaching job – soon to be the 49ers – and the defense has come on.”
Ryan, who has thrown for 45 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this season (playoffs included), will lead the Falcons against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI this Sunday. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET.