The 2019 season was one which left more to forget than to remember. Coming off of a 7-9 season in 2018, the Falcons fell well short of expectations and repeated their 7-9 mark a year later.
However, there were some positive moments to pick out from the disappointing campaign. Those moments may have been few and far between for a team that started the year 1-7 and elected to make no major changes to its coaching staff or front office, but they were still present.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will count down the five best moments of the 2019 season from five to one. Keep in mind that this is a very subjective exercise and that not everyone’s five best moments will match this countdown. However, that’s what makes it fun. Discussion will be sparked, and that can help distract us as we pass through the offseason.
This will not be a list of whole games (for example, you will not see “Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans as Michael Thomas and Drew Brees fail to stat pad a touchdown in the closing moments of the game” in this countdown), nor full player performances (you will not see “Matt Ryan’s ninth consecutive 4000-yard season” listed). It will be a list consisting of singular plays, or pairs of plays if they coincide with one another.
You can find play number five here.
Today, we look at the fourth best moment of the 2019 season.
Number 4: Deion Jones’ pic 6 walks the Falcons off and puts Jameis Winston into the 30/30 club (Week 17 at Buccaneers)
The Falcons were left with only pride to play for in Week 17 when they traveled to Tampa Bay sporting a 6-9 record to close out the season (the exact same scenario as 2018).
The Buccaneers were closing out a frustrating season of their own, but when you haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade the way they haven’t then a 7-8 record going into the final game doesn’t seem so bad.
To find the personification of Tampa Bay’s rollercoaster season you had to look no further than their leader — quarterback Jameis Winston, who was the maddening definition of really good and really bad at the same time. Winston led the league in passing yards, was second in passing touchdowns, and dominated the field in interceptions thrown.
Going into Week 17, he was on the verge of 5,000 passing yards, over 30 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions in the same season.
A sloppy game which featured Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter showcasing his complete lack of play-calling creativity (minus Ty Sambrailo’s catch-and-run) and the Buccaneers offense rendered completely ineffective outside of the second quarter was left deadlocked at the end of regulation. Winston had achieved 5,000 passing yards on the season, and was sitting on 33 passing TDs and 29 interceptions.
The game went to overtime, which is something nobody really wanted to see — this insufferable season had to be endured for a little longer.
Luckily, that only lasted one extra play. Winston got the ball first in the overtime period, targeted Cameron Brate on a short 3-yard route, but didn’t see Deion Jones right next to the tight end. Jones undercut the pass and had green grass ahead of him for the touchdown.
The Falcons ended the season on a four-game winning streak because of that play, and Winston became the first QB in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season.