Devonta Freeman is having a hard time letting go of the Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl LI loss to the New England Patriots, and that includes what he perceives as his own lost chance at winning MVP of the game.
"I hate to go there, but I was supposed to be the MVP this year of the Super Bowl, but it's all good, we got another shot," the Falcons running back said Wednesday on SiriusXM Blitz.
"I don't want to make this no competition thing with me and my quarterback [Matt Ryan, the NFL MVP]. I'm just talking about from based off that game. Let's [say] it like this: If I would have kept getting the ball, if I would have stayed in the game, I don't know why I got out of the game actually.
"But if I would have stayed in the game, I would have got MVP. I'm looking at my stats and I see my numbers didn't lie. Look at my numbers," he said.
"... If I would have stayed in the game, I would have got MVP. I'm looking at my stats and I see my numbers didn't lie. Look at my numbers."Devonta Freeman
Freeman had 75 yards rushing on 11 carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run. He also had two catches for 46 yards. But he had just five rushes for 4 yards in the second half and overtime when the Patriots outscored Atlanta 25-7 to pull out the historic victory. Ryan passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns.
Brady was named the game's MVP for leading the epic comeback and passing for 466 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's hard to move on from something like that," Freeman said of the loss. "I don't think I'll ever move on from something like that. To be honest, I think it'll always play in the back of my head, just because I know, I feel like we're going to get a Super Bowl this year. And I feel like this could have been two [Super Bowl wins in a row]. I could have been close to Tom Brady, you know what I mean? It'll always play in the back of my head and the back of my mind.
"I feel like you can't dwell on the things that went wrong. We're going to always look at that game and say, 'I wish I could have did this, I wish I could have did that.' The next time, we'll just make sure we seize the moment."
Ryan said earlier this month during OTAs that the Falcons are "on to 2017" and have put the Super Bowl behind them.
"You learn from [the Super Bowl], like we did. You deal with it, like we did. And then you move forward and you start preparing to try and be the best football team that this group can be," Ryan said on June 2. "And that's where we're at. I mean, we're a different bunch than we were last year. That's good. That's exciting. And I think guys are ready for that challenge."
The Falcons begin their quest to get back to the Super Bowl when training camp opens on July 26. Freeman, who is the first Falcons running back since Michael Turner (2010-11) to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has said a new deal could be reached before the start of the season and maybe even before camp.