What was the single best play of 2011? These are the questions that keep us up at night, assuming we are already insomniacs.
There were plenty of worthy nominations for this one, in no small part because there were incredible plays throughout the year. Even during their most frustrating games, the Falcons managed to put up eye-popping stretches thanks to the strength of their players, the occasional clever scheme and dumb luck.
Onward, friends. Here's our nominees:
- Chris Owens runs down Percy Harvin in the Vikings game, tackling him just short of at touchdown on a return. This was one of the most athletic, persistent displays of determination I've ever seen from an NFL player. Owens didn't give up despite chasing down one of the league's deadliest and fastest returners.
- Julio Jones caught a 50 yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan that involved him diving and coming up in the ball in the middle of three Colts defenders. It was a truly incredible play, and the moment when Jones truly arrived in Atlanta.
- Jason Snelling ran more than 20 yards for a touchdown against the Saints. That wouldn't have been totally incredible by itself, but Snelling also trucked over multiple defenders on his way.
- Julio Jones' 75 yard touchdown catch against the Panthers. Jones is amazing.
- Matt Ryan had his ankle stepped on by Svitek versus the Lions. It looked like he was going to miss the game, at minimum, but he returned and tossed a 49 yard pass.
- Jacquizz Rodgers caught his first NFL touchdown pass against the Panthers, reeling in a 31 yarder. It was a great play for the mighty mite rookie.
- In the second Saints game, William Moore tipped a pass that Dominique Franks intercepted. Hey, it was Drew Brees.
- Tony Gonzalez one-handed touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles. That dude can still ball.