FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher Vic Beasley Jr. couldn't lie: The many references to blowing a 28-3 lead to New England in a 34-28 overtime loss in Super Bowl LI certainly got under his skin, at least for a while.
"You looked at social media and you saw all that 28-3, you were like, 'Dang, man,'" Beasley said Monday as the Falcons prepare for Sunday night's Super Bowl rematch. "You're like, 'Shoot; we almost had it.' But, hey, what can you do about it now? The Patriots did it. A couple of weeks after the game, 28-3, I saw it a lot. They were making memes of all kind of stuff."
It didn't stop there.
T-shirts reading the 28-3 third-quarter score with 2:12 remaining on the clock became available on the Internet, and still are for $21.85 via Amazon.
NFC South foe Tampa Bay trolled the Falcons about it back in May via its team Twitter account. The Buccaneers posted a photo with No. 28 Vernon Hargreaves and No. 3 Jameis Winston bumping fists in the locker room with the message "We ain't worried 'bout nothing!" in an exchange with the Falcons' social media team. It resulted in coach Dirk Koetter, formerly the Falcons' offensive coordinator, issuing an apology.
The Patriots got another jab in before their season opener, leaving 28-3 on the scoreboard during the pregame ceremony, emceed by Mark Wahlberg, to celebrate their title.
Not to mention the New Orleans Saints fan who announced an intention to raise funds for a billboard in downtown in Atlanta, near the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, reading the 28-3 score.
"I didn't know that," Beasley said with a laugh. "It's a Saints fan, so that's a big rival. They're trying to throw that in our face. But, hey, it is what it is."
When asked if any of those 28-3 references still bothered him, free safety Ricardo Allen said, "Hell no."
Linebacker Deion Jones carried the same attitude, although a lot less blunt.
"At first, it bothered me but now, no," Jones said. "It's a whole new season. What happened, happened. You've just got to learn and rebuild from there."
Beasley doesn't expect to see 28-3 posted anywhere around the team facility this week as motivation.
"I don't think DQ will put that up," Beasley said, referring to head coach Dan Quinn. "At the same time, it's running through everybody's mind. Everybody remembers the last time we played them. You remember the last outcome."
Quinn didn't specifically address blowing the 25-point lead and the fallout from it, but he did speak about the Super Bowl loss, in general terms.
"It's not anything that you need to use for motivation," Quinn said Monday. "You're going to be pissed off about it, but what you can use it for is we think we can get a lot better in '17 than we were in '16. You don't get to go replay it. Yeah, there's a part of that that's motivation for sure, but it wasn't a driving force for us.
"For us only to be in the present moment, we couldn't keep looking back in the rearview mirror, so for us, it was to see how good we could get. It wasn't in terms of an everyday motivation for us. We wanted to make sure we're going to be the best version we could be, and we couldn't do that if we kept replaying a game that we can't change."