The Atlanta Falcons’ claim to fame is the crushing way they lost a Super Bowl.
They’re hardly alone in these playoffs.
Seven of the 12 teams still alive have never celebrated in the big game Youth JuJu Smith-Schuster Jersey , matching the largest group of playoff-bound squads with not-so-Super pedigrees since the 1999 season.
Will that lack of championship-winning experience prove costly?
If you’re on a team that hasn’t won a ring, it’s only natural to just shrug it off as a meaningless anomaly.
”It’s right here, right now,” Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn said Thursday. ”What’s in the past doesn’t matter.”
But there’s no denying that six-time champion Pittsburgh and five-time winner New England – the defending champ, as well – are the only true blue bloods in this field.
The Falcons have lost both of their Super Bowl appearances, including last season’s 34-28 overtime defeat in which Tom Brady and the Patriots stunningly rallied from a 25-point deficit in the second half . The NFC’s top seed, the Philadelphia Eagles, is also 0-2 in the Super Bowl, as are the Carolina Panthers.
Buffalo and Minnesota are the only franchises to lose four times in the big game without a title, and the Bills, of course, are the lone team to suffer that fate in four straight years. The Tennessee Titans (who began their existence as the Houston Oilers) came up short in their lone Super Bowl try. Jacksonville has never been to the title game at all .
Jaguars owner Shad Khan said it’s good to have a bunch of teams chasing their first crown.
He noted the huge demand for tickets in attendance-challenged Jacksonville, where the Jags are hosting the Bills in a matchup of teams that broke long playoff droughts this season.
”Could you imagine the hottest ticket in football is right here, selling for five, six times face value?” Khan said. ”Our cheapest ticket is 300 bucks, standing room. Could you believe that happening in freaking Jacksonville?”
Kansas City, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams have only one title apiece, though the latter’s came during their two-decade-long stint in St. Louis. The Chiefs reached two of the first four Super Bowls, winning it all in 1970, but they haven’t been back since. The Saints won their lone Super Bowl appearance during the 2009 season.
”Once you get in Matthew Stafford Jersey White , it’s wide open for anybody,” insisted Tennessee linebacker Brian Orakpo, a nine-year veteran who will play his first playoff game Saturday against the Chiefs. ”Yeah, the Patriots and Steelers have a lot of pedigree, a lot of tradition, and you’ve got some young up-and-comers like ourselves that are hungry.”
Since the NFL went to a 12-team postseason format in 1990, the largest group of playoff teams without a Super Bowl title on their resume came 18 seasons ago. Kurt Warner and the high-flying Rams were among eight squads that had never won the championship until they held off Tennessee in the title game, memorably stopping the Titans’ final play at the 1-yard line.
The only other times that the current playoff structure included as many as seven non-Super Bowl-winning teams were 2008 and 1996.
When it comes to postseason neophytes, the Bills are drawing much of the attention after reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1999 , snapping the longest dry spell in any of the four major professional sports. But Buffalo it still known for that unprecedented four-year run of futility in the Super Bowl, which began in 1991 with Scott Norwood missing a potential game-winning field goal in the final seconds and was followed by three straight double-digit blowouts.
”It’s time to create some other memories of the Bills,” Thurman Thomas, the Hall of Fame running back on those Super Bowl-losing teams, told The Associated Press. ”It’s not the squad that went to the four straight Super Bowls. It’s somebody else.”
The Vikings were the first franchise to lose four Super Bowls, accomplishing that ignominious feat in an eight-year span that ended in 1976. They haven’t gotten that far again, losing five times in the NFC championship game, most recently during the 2000 season.
Coach Mike Zimmer said it’s important to take advantage of a season such as this, when the Vikings defied expectations by claiming a first-round bye behind a dominant defense journeyman quarterback Case Keenum .
”A lot of young guys come in and they expect it’s going to happen every single year,” Zimmer said. ”Really, you never know. The last time I won the Super Bowl was 1995 (as a Dallas assistant coach) Authentic Drew Brees Jersey , so it’s been awhile.”
Receiver Adam Thielen isn’t fretting over all those Super Bowls the Vikings lost so many years ago.
He’s only concerned with the next one, which will be held at Minnesota’s home stadium.
”We’re not really focusing on what’s happened in the past,” Thielen said. ”Every year is a totally different situation: different team, different types of players. Honestly, for us, we just know that we have a lot of confidence in the way that we’re playing football.”
AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida, John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York, and Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When Kyle Shanahan took over as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers last year, his top priority was acquiring the type of quarterback he could try to help mold into the star this franchise of Joe Montana and Steve Young has lacked for so long.
Before the 49ers got Jimmy Garoppolo, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch had their eyes on Kirk Cousins.
Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for Cousins in the fourth-round draft pick’s first two years in the NFL with Washington, which used the franchise tag in consecutive offseasons to delay free agency when the two sides failed to reach a long-term contract agreement. Eventually, Cousins was going to be available.
“I thought we’d have a very good chance,” Shanahan said, adding: “I think we fell into another alternative option that was pretty darn good.”
Last year, the 49ers swung a trade at the deadline with New England for Garoppolo. They won the last five games, all after Garoppolo took over as the starter Womens Melvin Gordon Jersey , to create a groundswell of confidence they’re back on track as a contender .
Cousins took an $84 million fully guaranteed contract from Minnesota , where the 49ers will open the season on Sunday and Shanahan will surely share a warm pregame greeting with his former pupil.
“Much of the way that I play the position to this day is a result of the way that he taught me as a young player,” Cousins said.
Stuck behind Robert Griffin III his first two years, Cousins developed so well with Washington that he ultimately moved ahead of the second overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, was the head coach until his firing after the 2013 season. His successor Jay Gruden had no choice but to stick with Cousins.
“He’s the guy who gave them a chance to win for about four years,” Shanahan said. “So I was really happy for him doing that, and I’m even more happy that he’s out of there doing it for someone else. I just hope it’s not on Sunday.”
Here are some other angles to follow for the game:
REPLACEMENT RUNNERS: The 49ers made former Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon their top target in free agency, giving a $30 million contract to be the featured ball carrier.
Shanahan was excited about McKinnon’s versatility, counting on significant contributions from the fifth-year player in the passing game as well as on the ground, but McKinnon tore the ACL in his right knee in practice last week and will sit out his first season with San Francisco.
“Since the day we signed him we’ve been game-planning for Minnesota,” Shanahan said. “So I’m not going to lie: It changes things pretty drastically.”
The roles of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida will be elevated in McKinnon’s absence. The fact that the opener is against his old team made the injury even worse.
“I was more devastated when it happened, just the feeling knowing that it wouldn’t be all right for Week 1,” McKinnon said.
COOKED TO ORDER: McKinnon’s role with the Vikings last year was elevated after Dalvin Cook tore his left ACL in the fourth game. Latavius Murray was especially productive over the second half of the schedule, too, but Cook has worked his way back to where he left off in that abbreviated rookie season.
“My knee is fine. It’s ready to go. I’m ready to play. Those carries were a plus. But I’ve been practicing the whole time, getting reps and going full speed,” he said.
GOODWIN’S GROWTH: Marquise Goodwin had 613 receiving yards over the last eight games of 2017, a breakout performance in his fifth year. Drafted in the third round by Buffalo, Goodwin never clicked there but now gives Garoppolo a potent downfield target.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer recalled being wowed by the speed of Goodwin Authentic Adrian Peterson Jersey , who made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team as a long jumper, when he was at Texas to watch another prospect’s pre-draft workout.
“He’s got such great speed, and that’s always been there, but now he’s become an all-purpose receiver,” Zimmer said. “He goes over the middle. He catches underneath balls. He’s improved a lot.”
UNCLE SHERM: Cornerback Richard Sherman will make his debut for the 49ers, the team he tormented so often with Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense. Sherman was released following a left Achilles tendon rupture that limited him to nine games last year.
After dealing with some minor injuries in training camp, the four-time Pro Bowl pick is eager to play his first game that counts in 10 months. He’ll have an immediate challenge opposite Minnesota’s wide receiver duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, who have not only been adjusting to Cousins but to new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
“We’re excited to see how he’s going to call a game,” Thielen said. “We got a glimpse of it in preseason, but it’ll be fun to see what he does for a full 60 minutes.”
ROOKIE ROLES: The 49ers will lean heavily on two rookies: Fred Warner and Mike McGlinchey. Warner, a third-round draft pick from BYU, will play middle linebacker for Reuben Foster, who must serve a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s conduct and substances of abuse policies. McGlinchey, the first-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, will start at right tackle opposite Danielle Hunter, the rising star at defensive end for the Vikings.
“I’m just going to do my job,” McGlinchey said. “That’s what I came here to do. There’s no pressure because that’s what I expect from myself.”
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