Matt Ryan, who guided the Atlanta Falcons to an improbable Super Bowl run, didn't try to quickly block the game from his mind despite the fact a 25-point lead turned into a 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots.
Instead of decompressing for a bit, Ryan jumped right back into things as if he were preparing for a game the following Sunday. That meant watching the game film.
And watching it some more.
"I watched it the day after. I watched it two days after. And then I watched it three days after," Ryan told 680 The Fan radio in Atlanta during a Monday interview prior to his charity golf tournament. "For me, it was one of those things, I think; you kind of want to be able to deal with it appropriately. Maybe that's different for everybody. Some people bury it away. ... For me it was, 'All right, let's watch.'
"Does it feel the same way it felt as we were going through it? I think everybody is going to be really hungry to get back there because the one thing I'm proud of is we have a young team. We were ready to play. I thought we played well. And we were right in the mix and fell a little bit short. But we should have every bit of confidence that we're going to be right back there next year and getting a different outcome because we're going to be more experienced."
A key for Ryan -- the league's MVP -- and his teammates will be shaking off how the game ended. While many have questioned the playcalling of then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan -- who opted not to run the ball in key, fourth-quarter situations, Ryan isn't pointing the blame at anyone.
"You play," Ryan said. "As a player, you play. And your focus, I guess, is always on, 'All right, what's coming in? How do I do the best job with what's coming in?' That's what (you're) like in those types of situations.
"Now on the sideline, it's a different story. That's where you talk about stuff before going out. ... That's the time when you can kind of discuss those things. But when you're on the field, whatever comes in, you're trying to execute it as best you can."
Falcons coach Dan Quinn previously discussed the what-ifs in the game that included two questionable circumstances where running the ball seemed to be a better option for a team known to be aggressive with passes. The first was when Ryan was sacked and lost the ball on a third-and-1 after Devonta Freeman missed a block, a play that resulted in a Patriots touchdown. Then later, the Falcons were driving for possibly the game-clinching field goal when Ryan was sacked on one pass play and Jake Matthews committed a holding penalty during another dropback. That drive eventually resulted in a punt, allowing the Patriots to tie the score and send it to overtime.
"We would have loved to have gotten a different result," Ryan said. "So if you were going to tell me, 'Do the same things and get the same result,' obviously we'd all say, 'Nah, we would have done something differently.'
"You've got to believe in what you're doing, and that's kind of the way we were all year. We played aggressive the entire year. That's not going to change. I love that approach. I love the fact that they have confidence in me, they have confidence in the guys that we have, and we're going to let it rip. Obviously, it didn't work out."
Ryan already has taken the first step toward preparing for next season. He brought his teammates to South Florida this week for an unscheduled workout prior to the start of the team's offseason workout program this coming Monday. Ryan invited all of his teammates for the second annual "passing camp," offensive and defensive linemen included.
Although the focus is getting back to the Super Bowl, certainly Ryan still feels the sting from such a gut-wrenching defeat -- just like he felt immediately after the game ended.
"It sucks," Ryan said. "There's no getting around it. It's not a fun night. You're disappointed. You're kind of numb, too, for the most part. You're numb to how it goes. I don't think you quite process it that night."
Ryan has come to grips with it now. And now it's time to move forward.