The Falcons’ historic Super Bowl 51 choke, in five acts

How did the Atlanta Falcons conjure up the greatest choke job in North American sports history?

Let’s allow the most esteemed of sportswriters, Ernest Hemingway, to handle that one.

“Gradually, then suddenly.”

They owned a 16-point lead in Super Bowl 51 after the New England Patriots, following a drive that advanced all the way to a first-and-goal at the Atlanta 7, were forced to settle for a field goal with 9:44 remaining in regulation. At that point, the Patriots were going to need a near miracle to find a way to win their fifth championship.

Alex Smith, 32, doesn’t present any real age concerns. Coach Andy Reid and Kansas City seem comfortable staying with Smith’s steady floor and limited ceiling. But Smith has been around a while with limited playoff success. Although the situation is not as dire as some make it out to be, this is a good time for the Chiefs to add another potential starting QB with Smith having only two more seasons left on his contract.

There’s a lot of Donovan McNabb in Watson, and that should pique Reid a little more as John Dorsey and the rest of Kansas City’s personnel team takes a longer look.

Can new coach Kyle Shanahan and new general manager John Lynch convince Jeffery to come out West with an uncertain QB situation? That’s the trick, but there’s no doubt Shanahan, after working with Julio Jones and the Falcons, knows it’s critical to have an attention-demanding target to set up complementary, versatile receivers in his diverse passing offense.

Sitting on a gold mine under the cap, the 49ers easily have the means to give Jeffery the money he wants. Combining that move with, say, a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo would be a great coup.texans_028