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Atlanta Falcons 2010 Year in Review: Top 10 Moments

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2010

Atlanta Falcons 2010 Year in Review: Top 10 Moments

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    It has been an eventful 2010 for the Atlanta Falcons, full of franchise firsts, big wins and even some love from fans and players around the league.

    While the 2010 season can certainly turn out to be memorable, the Falcons won't play another game in the calendar year. Week 17 and the playoffs come in 2011.

    This was a fun year to be a Falcons fan, and hopefully the good times can continue for years to come.

    Here's a look back at what made January through December of 2010 so special.

10. March 15, 2010: Falcons Sign Dunta Robinson

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Robinson has yet to record an interception this year and has been burned a few times after missed tackles.

    He's gotten better as the year has progressed, however, and we must keep in mind that teams have been throwing at Brent Grimes much more often than Robinson.

    Robinson is also seventh on the team in total tackles with 52, as he has provided good run support.

    And here's an interesting statistic for you: All four members of Atlanta's starting secondary are in the top seven in total tackles.

    Grimes clocks in at No. 2 with 80 behind only linebacker Curtis Lofton, who has 118.

9. April 22, 2010: Atlanta Selects Sean Weatherspoon 19th Overall In Draft

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Falcons place a premium on getting intelligent football players, preferably those who graduated from college.

    Weatherspoon fits that bill, and he is also a mighty fine football player. In 2008, his junior year at Missouri, he notched the second-most single-season tackles in school history.

    He began his rookie season in the starting lineup and came out of the gates strong by recording 24 total tackles in his first three games. He got banged-up a bit afterward, causing him to miss some time. He now plays primarily in nickel packages where he is having a modest impact.

    He should be a starter again by next season.

8. September 26, 2010: Falcons Beat Saints In New Orleans

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Falcons and Saints ended up splitting their season series, but this Week 3 contest is still one of the highlights of the year and one of the best games played league wide.

    Atlanta won the game 27-24 in overtime after a back-and-forth battle left the teams tied at the end of regulation.

    New Orleans evened up the score in Week 16, and it is likely that the teams will meet again in the playoffs.

7. December 28, 2010: Team Has NFL-High 7 Pro Bowlers

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    It's been well documented that the Falcons have received a lack of respect from the national media. That did not stop fans from taking notice of the team, as Atlanta has the most Pro Bowlers of any NFL team this year with seven.

    After the 2009 season, not a single Falcon was selected for the showcase, so this serves some justice for that.

    Of course, the Falcons will hope that none of these seven players actually participate in the game, as those who make the Super Bowl will not be playing.

    Michael Turner, Ovie Mughelli, Roddy White and John Abraham were selected as starters, Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez will serve as backups and Eric Weems made it on special teams.

6. November 28, 2010: Atlanta Knocks Off Green Bay

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Green Bay was a trendy Super Bowl pick coming into the season. Severely hampered by injuries, they still have a good chance at the postseason, and when they came to Atlanta in Week 12, they were viewed as one of the NFC's elite teams.

    Many around the country thought the Packers would beat the Falcons, but after a very tight and exciting contest, Matt Bryant nailed a 47-yard field goal with nine seconds left, securing Atlanta's fifth straight victory.

    Some continued to doubt the Falcons after the game, saying they needed to show they could win on the road.

5. December 5, 2010-December 19, 2010: Three Straight Road Wins

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    "The Falcons can't win on the road." Fans heard it all year, and frankly grew quite tired of the notion.

    In truth, Atlanta just can't win in Pennsylvania. Outside of their two games in the Keystone State, the Falcons are unbeaten on the road.

    This three-game stretch saw them beat Tampa Bay, Carolina and Seattle by a combined score of 93-52, and their game with the Buccaneers was an absolute thriller.

    Speaking of that game...

4. November 7, 2010 and December 5, 2010: Falcons Sweep Tampa Bay

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    In two of the more hotly-contested games of the season, the Falcons managed to come out on top twice.

    In the first contest, which took place in the Georgia Dome, Atlanta needed a goal-line stand from the defense to secure a 27-21 victory.

    The second was held in Tampa and saw the Falcons rally from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to win, 28-24.

    Both games featured remarkable kick returns from Tampa's Michael Spurlock and Atlanta's Eric Weems.

    The showdown at Raymond James Stadium added to the lore that is beginning to surround Matt Ryan and his "Matty Ice" nickname.

3. November 11, 2010: Atlanta Takes Down Ravens On Late Touchdown

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    In a game heralded as a possible Super Bowl preview, the Falcons dominated play early on before giving up their lead in the fourth quarter.

    What followed was possibly Atlanta's most memorable drive of the season.

    The Falcons took the field with just over a minute left, trailing 21-20. After converting on a big third-down pass early in the drive, Matt Ryan and Roddy White capped of the march down the field on a 33-yard touchdown connection with just 20 seconds remaining.

    Baltimore was unable to pull out a miracle victory, and the Falcons were viewed as legit contenders for the first time all season.

2. December 19, 2010: Atlanta Clinches Playoff Berth

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Before they even took the field on this date, the Falcons knew they were heading to the playoffs.

    They wanted to provide an exclamation point, however, and would go on to beat Seattle 34-18.

    The game itself provided us with a glimpse of a defense that may be starting to peak, which would serve the team well when the calendar turns to 2011.

    It will be Atlanta's second trip to the postseason in three years, and they could be playing at home throughout the tournament.

1. January 3, 2010: First Back-To-Back Winning Seasons In Franchise History

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    When Thomas Dimitroff brought in Mike Smith as coach and drafted Matt Ryan to be the team's franchise quarterback, an organizational turnaround began.

    The Falcons were a surprise playoff team at 11-5 in 2008, and hopes were high heading into the 2009 season.

    While they fell short of the playoffs, their first game of calendar year 2010 gave the Falcons their first consecutive winning seasons in franchise history.

    I'll be honest with you. I was hoping to be able to have Atlanta locking up the No. 1 seed in this spot, but the Saints and Falcons would not cooperate. How rude!

    Still, this was a great achievement for a team that has been known for losing quite often in its time in the NFL. The 9-7 finish signaled a positive direction for the franchise, and it appears we could be in for a very long stretch of winning seasons.

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