Atlanta Falcons: 10 Biggest Plays of the Season So Far

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2010

Atlanta Falcons: 10 Biggest Plays Of The Season So Far

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 and Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons react after White's touchdown reception in the final seconds against the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevi
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons have played 13 games this year and have provided their fans with plenty to talk about along the way.

    It's been a fun and exciting season that could continue well into January and maybe even February.

    If that's the case, there will be many, many more top plays, but here's a look at the biggest plays of the season so far.

    Let's hope this list can be expanded in the coming weeks.

10. Roddy White's 3rd and 20 Grab at Tampa Bay

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    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    It wasn't readily apparent on television replays, but this was a one-handed catch. Maybe others noticed it, but I didn't realize it until watching the game replay on NFL Network, which has the added benefits of the NFL Films' cameras.

    Down by three late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons faced a 3rd and 20 situation on their own 23 yard line. If they didn't do something quick, well, let's just say they wouldn't be enjoying their plane ride home.

    As the duo has done so many times in the past three seasons, Matt Ryan and Roddy White connected on a 25 yard catch that featured an excellent route and a perfectly placed ball between three defenders.

    This play gets knocked down just a little bit because it was not a game winner, but the Falcons would go for the game-winning score just eight plays later.

    An honorable mention in this spot goes to Michael Jenkins' similar catch against Baltimore.

    Don't worry though, there's more from that game and much more from this one coming up.

9. Michael Turner TD Caps Off 20 Play, 10 Plus Minute Drive at New Orleans

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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Michael Turner #33  of the Atlanta Falcons avoids a tackle by Jonathan Vilma #51 of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on September 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Maybe this play alone wasn't spectacular, but the events leading up to it were monstrous.

    The 1-1 Falcons were visiting the 2-0 Saints. They could, in no way, afford to fall to 1-2 and be looking up at an unbeaten New Orleans squad.

    The Saints had already taken a 14-7 lead and were driving deep into Falcons territory when the unexpected happened. Drew Brees flipped up a complete lame duck that was picked off by Thomas DeCoud.

    Taking over at their own 28, Atlanta embarked on a 20 play scoring drive that ate up nearly 11 minutes of the clock, puncuating it with a one-yard touchdown plunge from Michael Turner.

    On the drive, the Falcons had two third down conversions, two fourth down conversions, and amassed six total first downs.

    It certainly got the blood pumping and let everyone know we had a game on our hands.

8. Roddy White Redeems Himself with TD and 2 Point Conversion vs. Cincinnati

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24:  Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons pulls in this two-point conversion against the Cincinnati Bengals at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Ahead 24-6 late in the third quarter, the Falcons nearly had an epic collapse when they allowed the Bengals to score 19 points in just over two minutes of game time.

    Cincinnati took a 25-24 lead when they forced a Roddy White fumble and Adam Jones ran it back for a touchdown.

    Apparently White just wanted to make things interesting and add to his highlight reel, as Atlanta wasted no time in marching down the field, eventually hitting White for an 11-yard touchdown.

    If that wasn't enough; "Rowdy Roddy" made a leaping catch over multiple defenders to snag the two point conversion.

    The Falcons would not relinquish the lead and were on their way to 5-2.

7. Matt Bryant's Game Winner Over Green Bay

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28:  Jarrett Bush #24 of the Green Bay Packers looks on as Michael Koenen, Jonathan Babineaux #95 and Matt Bryant #3 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrate Bryant's go-ahead field goal in the final seconds at Georgia Dome on November 28, 2010
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    After the Packers tied the game at 17 with just under a minute left, Eric Weems nearly ran the ensuing kickoff back before being dragged down by his facemask.

    The return, as well as the penalty, put the Falcons in good position to get in field goal territory.

    Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas did their part to move the ball 20 yards and get in Matt Bryant's range.

    Bryant has shown a knack for clutch kicks this year, and his 47 yarder gave Atlanta a 20-17 lead with just nine seconds remaining.

    Green Bay nearly gave this writer a heart attack when it appeared they may have something going with some laterals on their final play, but the Falcons had defenders positioned very deep to provide a safety net.

    If anyone doubted the Falcons coming in, they had no choice but to take them seriously after this one.

6. Brent Grimes' Interception at Tampa Bay

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    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    Doing his best Matt Ryan impersonation, Josh Freeman led the young Bucs to quite a few late game wins this year.

    After the Falcons had taken back the lead in the fourth quarter, it seemed he might be engineering another one after converting a fourth down just before the two minute warning.

    Coming out of the break, Freeman attempted to hit Mike Williams near the sideline, but Brent Grimes had other plans as he made a diving interception that ultimately sealed the win. It wasn't even a bad throw from Freeman. It was just a fantastic play by Grimes.

    The win kept Atlanta at the top of the division and gave them a six game winning streak.

5. Roddy White's Strip of Nate Clements in Win Over San Francisco

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers paces the sidelines during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Much to the dismay of Mike Singletary, Nate Clements did not learn his lesson from the 2009-10 season.

    With the Falcons trailing late, Matt Ryan threw an interception that seemed likely to cost his team the game.

    Instead of simply going to the ground after getting the pick, Clements attempted to take it to the house. Unfortunately for him, Roddy White is very fast and very aware.

    He stripped the ball from Clements and the Falcons regained possession, leading to a drive that was culminated by Matt Bryant's second game-winning field goal in as many weeks.

    Although the play was not as crucial, White did that same thing to Clements' ex-teammate, Dre' Bly, a season earlier.

    San Fran's defensive back must not be a student of history.

4. Defense's Goal Line Stand vs. Tampa Bay

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 07:  Mike Peterson #53 of the Atlanta Falcons against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on November 7, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Unfortunately there is no picture of the moment, but those who watched the game surely remember it clearly.

    With Atlanta ahead 27-21, Tampa Bay was driving and found itself on the Falcon two yard line on a 4th and 1.

    The Bucs handed it off to their 247 pound back LeGarrette Blount; Blount was quickly stuffed short of the first down marker and the end zone.

    Michael Turner gained a first down of his own on the ensuing possession and iced the game.

    The defense has taken some flak this year, but they rose up when it mattered most.

3. Eric Weems' 102 Yard Kickoff Return Sparks Rally at Tampa Bay

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    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    You've probably realized this by now, but I'm a pretty big fan of this game.

    Past incarnations of the Falcons would have folded, being down 10 in the fourth quarter on the road. Not these guys, though. No matter what happens the rest of the way, we'll always know that they played their hearts out.

    Weems' 102 yard return was the longest play in franchise history. It featured great blocking by the guys on special teams. It displayed crazy amounts of elusiveness; it allowed a magic show to break out near the sideline as Weems somehow kept his feet in bounds; was HUGE.

    Brent Grimes' interception, Roddy's catch and Michael Jenkins' touchdown may have won the game, but none of it would have been possible without Weems' exhilarating run back.

2. Matt Bryant's Game-Winning Overtime Field Goal at New Orleans

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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Matt Bryant #3 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after kicking a field goal to win the game in overtime 27-24 against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on September 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo b
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Rightfully so, many will point to Garrett Hartley's overtime chip-shot miss as the biggest play of the game.

    However, there's no way I could spin it to say that the Falcons forced him to miss that kick without being a complete homer. Hartley simply gakked in the biggest moment of the game.

    The miss didn't give Atlanta the win though. They still had to drive the ball down the field to get in range, and Bryant still had to make the kick.

    He had to attempt it three times after being iced by Saints' coach Sean Payton and a false start penalty set him back five yards.

    The third time was the charm as the 46 yard kick went right down the middle and gave the Falcons an overtime win in one of the best games of the year.

    It was the first indication that this group of guys might be something special.

1. Matt Ryan to Roddy White to Beat Baltimore

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11:  Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons pulls in the go-ahead touchdown reception in the final seconds against the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    There's that man again.

    How many big-time plays has Roddy White had this year? I could easily make a Top 10 list of his efforts, alone.

    At the time, Baltimore was Atlanta's biggest test. Many around the country expected the Falcons to lose and were ready to discount them as legitimate contenders.

    Atlanta man handled the Ravens in the first half before allowing them to take the lead in the fourth with just over one minute left.

    As I've said before, there's something different about this team. They don't panic and it's starting to be expected that they will win any game that's close.

    After dropping some passes for the first time all year, White, just as he did against Cincy, redeemed himself by breaking free from coverage and grabbing the winning score.

    In a season that could go down as the best in franchise history, this game, this play, and this moment will always stand out.


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