The Catch Heard 'Round Atlanta

Michael FosterFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2008

It was starting to turn into the usual afternoon in Atlanta on Sunday, with the Atlanta Falcons bracing for another loss. At first there was hope, with the Falcons dominating the game and making play after play. Then came the taste of dissapointment, every fan here in Atlanta knows so well, as the Birds shot themselves in the foot countless times.

Finally, in true Falcons fashion, we gave our opponent the game.

That's how things go in Atlanta, and you cant kid yourself as a Falcons fan, to say we couldnt have expected less from our team. Lets face it, we are used to losing.

We are used to taking unexpected, and gut wrenching blows as soon as things start to look good.

We got swamped in our only Super Bowl. We lost the face of the franchise (and plenty of bilboards). Last year, twice, we lost the broadcast of the game. Time and time again Falcons fans have lost hope. Did we really expect anything more from the Falcons on Sunday?

"Nope. Game over. We lost again. Lets head for the exists, preferably before these last 11 seconds are over, so we beat traffic."

Thank God for those 11 seconds.

Has there ever been a more incredible finish in Falcons history? The Falcons had the ball, after the return, with just 6 ticks on the clock. Its common knowledge, that there isnt a single down field pass play that lasts less than 6 seconds, right? Wrong!

The traditional Falcons way would have been to chuck the ball down field, have it batted down, walk sulkind with our heads down towards our cars, and prepare for the same result or worse next weekend.

But these aren't the traditional Falcons, and the likes of quarterback Matt Ryan and coach Mike Smith, were not going to follow the traditional ritual. They decided to have it their way.

As the ball was snapped, and we all stared towards the end zone, half of us might have missed the quick heav towards the sideline about 30 yards down field. The pass caught everyone by suprise.

Even though it wasnt like Michael Jenkins was going to catch it! And even if he did, he wasnt going to get it out of bounds with 1 second on the clock!

Most fans in Atlanta would tell you its more likely that the new and suffering WNBA Atlanta Dream win a game, than it is for a miracle play to happen like that.

However, in a sports town where great things seldomly occur, never mind perfect plays occuring, there was a "perfect play!"

Ryan dropped back, slung a ball immediately towards the 30 yard line (just around Jason Elam's range) and Michael Jenkins made the catch.

All with one second left!

Elam came on, kicked the game winner, and sent the entire team and fan base into a state of euphoria I have not seen before.

The Falcons are now 4-2, tied for the division lead, and waking every football fan in Atlanta back up again. Had the Falcons not done the unthinkable in those 11 seconds, the fans would be giving up on them again. Just another day at the office.

So, this all gets me thinking. Is there a more defining moment in Falcons history? For other franchises, theres plenty of classic plays and games that would throw this moment on the shelf. But, in Atlanta, we don't have that kind of history.

If the Falcons can keep winning games, you might start seeing this replay week in and week out.

And who knows?

Maybe, with this new team, and this young quarterback, we can finally start a history of our own. Imagine, the first chapter reading, "The Catch Heard 'Round Atlanta!"