The 10 Best Highlights of the Atlanta Falcons' 2012 Season so Far

Al Bruce@@AlBruce7Contributor IDecember 17, 2012

The 10 Best Highlights of the Atlanta Falcons' 2012 Season so Far

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    Fifteen weeks down, two more to go in the 2012 NFL regular season. 

    With the NFL's second season looming in January, the Atlanta Falcons are sitting pretty at 12-2 and are coming off of their best performance of the season against the New York Giants

    As the team gears up for a Saturday night matchup in Detroit, let's take a moment to look back on the 10 best highlights of the Falcons' season thus far.

Week 1: Tony Gonzalez's Touchdown in Kansas City Blows Open Falcons' Rout

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    The Falcons didn't waste any time introducing their new pass-oriented offense to the rest of the league.  In a game that at least one pundit predicted they would lose 41-0, the Falcons blasted the hapless Chiefs 40-24 at Arrowhead Stadium. 

    Atlanta put the game out of reach when Matt Ryan found ex-Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez for a seven-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.  Gonzalez celebrated the score with his signature goal-post dunk.  You can see the highlight at 2:25 in the video.

Week 2: Falcons Defense Rattles Peyton Manning, Forces Three Interceptions

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    The Falcons played their first home game of the 2012 season in prime time against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.  The Falcons secondary proved to be up for the challenge, as it forced Manning into three first-quarter interceptions. 

    The Falcons held off a late Denver rally to win 27-21.

Week 4: Roddy White's 60-Yard 4th Quarter Catch Sets Up Winning FG vs. Panthers

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    There is no way that you could leave this play off of a highlight reel for the 2012 Atlanta Falcons. 

    Trailing the Panthers 28-27 late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons got the ball back at their own 1-yard line with less than a minute to go and no timeouts.  Matt Ryan found Roddy White behind two Panthers defenders for a 60-yard gain on the ensuing first down, and four plays later, Matt Bryant's kick gave the Falcons a 30-28 win. 

    Roddy White finished the game with eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

Week 4 and Week 6: Matt Bryant's Game-Winning Field Goals

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    Falcons kicker Matt Bryant may have been the team's MVP during the three-week period from Week 4 to Week 6.  He hit the game-winning field goals in Atlanta's wins over both Carolina (30-28) and Oakland (23-20). 

    In addition, Bryant had a big 53-yard field goal to tie the game in the fourth quarter against Washington in the Falcons' 24-17 Week 5 win.

Week 6: Asante Samuel's Pick-Six off of Carson Palmer vs. Raiders

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    Asante Samuel formally introduced himself to Atlanta fans when he intercepted Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer and raced down the sideline for a touchdown that helped secure a 23-20 win over Oakland in Week 6.

Week 8: Julio Jones Beats Nnamdi Asomugha for 63-Yard Touchdown

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    Prior to their the Week 15 win over the Giants, the Falcons' best game was probably their 30-17 Week 8 win in Philadelphia against the then-3-3 Eagles

    After the Eagles scored a touchdown to pull within 14-7 in the second quarter, Matt Ryan found Julio Jones down the sideline on a play that reminded all of us why Thomas Dimitroff decided to move up to get Jones in 2011 NFL draft.

Week 9: Jacquizz Rodgers' 4th-Quarter Third-Down Conversions Seal Win vs. Dallas

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    The Falcons were on prime-time television again when Dallas came to the Georgia Dome for a Sunday Night Football matchup. 

    With the Falcons clinging to a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan turned to Jacquizz Rodgers to convert two crucial third downs that allowed the Falcons eat most of the time off the game clock and eventually win the game 19-13. 

    You can see Rodgers make a couple of Cowboys defenders look silly at 3:48 and 4:40 in the highlight clip. 

Week 12: Julio Jones' 80-Yard Touchdown Catch vs. Tampa Bay

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    Another week, another big play from Julio Jones. 

    With the Falcons trailing the Bucs 13-10 in the third quarter of a pivotal NFC South matchup, Matt Ryan found Julio Jones for an 80-yard touchdown that once again provided fans with a reminder of the kind of speed and athleticism that the Falcons have on the outside. 

    The Falcons went on to win the game 24-23.

Week 13: Falcons Force 5 Drew Brees Interceptions in Prime-Time Win over Saints

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    Revenge was a dish best served cold for the Falcons in Week 13. 

    With the rival Saints in town for a Thursday night game, the Falcons all but ended the Saints' faint playoff hopes with a 23-13 win. 

    The Atlanta defense forced Drew Brees into five interceptions and also snapped Brees' streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

Week 15: Falcons Shutout Defending Champion Giants 34-0

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    Coming off of their worst performance of the season in Week 14 against the Panthers, the Falcons finally played a complete game, blasting the defending Super Bowl champion Giants 34-0. 

    In a measure of revenge from January's 24-2 wild-card loss in the Meadowlands, the Atlanta defense stopped the Giants on three fourth-down conversion attempts in Atlanta territory.  The impressive victory handed the Giants the worst shutout loss by a defending champion in NFL history. 


    Tweet your favorite 2012 Falcons highlights to me @AlBruce7.