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Atlanta Falcons Greatest Moments Bracket: Region 1, Round 1

We look to decide what the greatest moment in Falcons history is, with your votes determining the winners.

Welcome to the starting point of what I hope will be a really fun ride over the course of the next few weeks.

Throughout the offseason, with some help from you guys, I have compiled a list of 64 of the greatest moments in Atlanta Falcons history. I now want you to decide what the greatest moment in franchise history was.

This exercise will resemble an NCAA March Madness tournament, going round by round in a single elimination head to head structure. The competing moments have been randomly split into four regions of 16. The seedings for each region have been completely determined by your votes.

The rules are simple. Each moment will compete against another, head to head (matchups have been determined by seeding, and are identical to March Madness). Whichever moment gets the most votes will win the matchup and move on to the next round.

Today, we will go through the first round of the first region within the bracket. A video highlight will accompany each moment to help recall some good nostalgia from Falcons past. Please vote for which moment you think was best within each matchup.


1) Julio Jones 73-yard dagger receiving touchdown vs. Packers in NFC Championship Game (2016)

vs.

16) Eric Weems kick return touchdown helps the team come back vs. Tampa Bay (2010)

Julio Jones’ massive touchdown against the Packers would be the overall 1-seed in this tournament as it generated more votes in the seeding phase than any other play in this bracket This was the back breaking score in the 2016 NFC Championship Game, all but clinching Atlanta’s trip to Super Bowl 51, as Julio blew the roof off the Georgia Dome by completely annihilating Ladarius Gunter in coverage.

Eric Weems’ kick return was a pivotal moment in Atlanta’s Week 13 comeback win in Tampa Bay. This was the turning point after the Bucs took a 24-14 fourth quarter lead, swinging all moment in Atlanta’s favor en route to a 28-24 victory to move to 10-2 on the season.

Poll

Which Play Wins?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    1) Julio Jones 73-yard dagger receiving touchdown vs. Packers in NFCCG (2016)
    (191 votes)
  • 12%
    16) Eric Weems kick return touchdown helps the team come back vs. Tampa Bay (2010)
    (27 votes)
218 votes total Vote Now

8) Falcons execute draft day trade for Steve Bartkowski (1975)

vs.

9) Falcons blow out Rams in 2004 Divisional Round game (2004)

The Falcons executed an audacious trade in 1975, which was the catalyst in the team’s first bit of success in franchise history. Having never tasted playoff football up to that point, Atlanta decided to trade Pro Bowl right tackle George Kunz and the number 3 pick to the Baltimore Colts for the top pick in the draft. With it they selected Steve Bartkowski, who led the team to their first playoff appearance, first playoff victory and first division division title over the next few years. Bart also obliterate all of Atlanta’s passing records and was one of the four players who was part of the inaugural class inducted into the team’s ring of honor in 2004.

The 2004 Falcons were the peak of the electric Mike Vick era in Atlanta. Under rookie head coach Jim Mora Jr. the team went 11-5 and won their first division title since the Super Bowl season of 1998, also earning a first round bye in the process. In the Divisional Round they absolutely outclassed the Los Angeles Rams en route to a 47-17 victory to clinch just their second ever NFC Championship Game appearance up to that point. The defense was stout and Vick, Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett led the best rushing attack in the NFL.

Poll

Which Play Wins?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    8) Falcons execute draft day trade for Steve Bartkowski (1975)
    (100 votes)
  • 51%
    9) Falcons blow out Rams in 2004 Divisional Round game (2004)
    (105 votes)
205 votes total Vote Now

5) Mike Vick 4th and goal touchdown run to force OT vs. Panthers (2004)

(Play occurs at 16:52 mark)

vs.

12) Adrian Clayborn sets franchise record with 6 sacks vs. Cowboys (2017)

Speaking of 2004, the Falcons don’t secure a first round bye without the heroics of Mike Vick in the Week 15 comeback victory against Carolina. On 4th-and-goal from the 12-yard-line, Vick accelerated up the middle and somehow kept his knee off the ground as he dove into the end zone to completed a 14-point second comeback and send the game into overtime. He was maybe the only quarterback in the NFL at the time capable of making that play. The Falcons won in overtime on a Jay Feely field goal.

Adrian Clayborn found another level in a Week 10 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, absolutely feasting on backup left tackle Chaz Green en route to a franchise best six sacks in a single game, falling just one short of Derrick Thomas’ all time NFL record. Clayborn powered the Falcons to a 27-7 victory and sparked a resurgence after the team started that year 4-4 (they finished 10-6).

Poll

Which Play Wins?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    5) Mike Vick 4th and goal touchdown run to force OT vs. Panthers (2004)
    (119 votes)
  • 41%
    12) Adrian Clayborn sets franchise record with 6.0 sacks vs. Cowboys (2017)
    (83 votes)
202 votes total Vote Now

4) Julio Jones goes off for 259 receiving yards vs. Packers on MNF (2014)

vs.

13) Falcons sign Michael Turner (2008)

While the 2014 season was largely one to forget for the Falcons, Julio Jones made a Week 14 night in chilly Lambeau Field his own on the national stage. Against the overpowering Packers, Jones put on a show to the tune of 259 receiving yards and a touchdown (he didn’t even play the whole game), nearly willing the team to victory single handedly. Nothing the Green Bay secondary threw at him worked that night. The Falcons lost, but Julio had showcased that he was the best wide receiver on the planet.

The Michael Turner free agent signing was maybe my favorite in team history. Turner immediately became the engine of the Falcons offense, serving as an all important crutch for a young Matt Ryan to lean on as he grew into his role as a franchise quarterback. Turner was a Falcon for five years, and recorded 1,300+ rushing yards three times and double digit rushing touchdowns all five seasons. His Magnum Opus came in 2008, when he had 1,699 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns en route to a First-Team All-Pro selection.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    4) Julio Jones goes off for 259 receiving yards vs. Packers on MNF (2014)
    (99 votes)
  • 50%
    13) Falcons sign Michael Turner (2008)
    (102 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now

6) Deion Sanders punt return touchdown vs. Rams in his first career game (1989)

vs.

11) Asante Samuel clutch pick 6 vs. Raiders helps Atlanta stay undefeated (2012)

Deion Sanders certainly took no time in making an impact at the professional level. The 5th overall selection out of Florida State was drafted for his playmaking skills and the first time he ever touched the ball in an NFL game he electrified Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium by shaking off a number of Rams en route to the first of many touchdowns as an Atlanta Falcon. The Falcons lost the matchup, but Sanders had announced a quick arrival.

Speaking of playmakers, Asante Samuel was one of the best ever at the corner back position. A magical run was brewing in the 2012 season, with the 5-0 Falcons hosting what seemed to be an outmatched Raiders team. Oakland took the fight to the Birds and were in position to take a lead with less than 3 minutes remaining when Samuel flipped the game on its head with an interception which he returned all the way. The Falcons won on a last second Matt Bryant field goal and remained undefeated to start the season.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    6) Deion Sanders punt return touchdown vs. Rams in his first career game (1989)
    (138 votes)
  • 30%
    11) Asante Samuel clutch pick 6 vs. Raiders helps Atlanta stay undefeated (2012)
    (60 votes)
198 votes total Vote Now

3) Matt Ryan is drafted by the Falcons (2008)

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14) Roddy White game-winning touchdown catch vs. Baltimore on TNF (2010)

(Play occurs at 5:51 mark)

The Falcons started the most successful era in team history in 2008, and the first move in transitioning into that era was the selection of Matt Ryan with the 3rd overall selection in the draft. After Miami and the Rams passed on the Boston College product, the Falcons opted to make him their next franchise quarterback and never looked back. Ryan has since eviscerated every single team passing record, has been the undisputed face of the franchise and will one day be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

The 2010 Falcons had the franchise’s most successful regular season since 1998, and they did so by routinely making 4th quarter comebacks. The Week 10 matchup with the Ravens on national television was a game between two 6-2 teams and served as a statement victory for Atlanta. Fans had grown accustomed to the comebacks, and this one was completed by Roddy White shaking off the defender and cruising into the end zone with just 20 seconds left to play.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 92%
    3) Matt Ryan is drafted by the Falcons (2008)
    (185 votes)
  • 7%
    14) Roddy White game-winning touchdown catch vs. Baltimore on TNF (2010)
    (16 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now

7) Roddy White chases down Nate Clemons, forcing a fumble, before Matt Ryan takes the team downfield to set up the game-winning field goal vs. San Francisco (2010)

(Play occurs at 2:10 mark)

vs.

10) Deion Jones pick 6 in overtime clinches 30/30 season for Jameis Winston (2019)

The Atlanta Falcons narrowly avoided getting upset by the winless 49ers in Week 4 of the 2010 season, and what gave them a chance at winning was Roddy White’s immaculate hustle — sprinting 40 yards downfield to pry the ball loose from an unsuspecting Nate Clemons who had delusions of the end zone. Guard Harvey Dahl also sprinted downfield to recover the fumble. Instead of San Francisco having the ball deep in Atlanta territory with the lead and with 1:22 remaining, Matt Ryan got the ball back at his 8-yard-line and led a clutch 11-play game-winning drive which culminated in a Matt Bryant field goal.

The 2019 season was one which was unkind to the Falcons, who started it off with a 1-7 record. The team finished that year strong, however, winning their final four games to finish 7-9. The final victory came in overtime against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the first play of the extra period, Jameis Winston’s pass was undercut by Deion Jones who went untouched for a walkoff touchdown. It was Winston’s 30th interception of the year, clinching the first 30 TD /30 INT season in NFL history.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    7) Roddy White chases down Nate Clemons, forcing a fumble, before Matt Ryan takes the team downfield to set up the game-winning field goal vs. San Francisco (2010)
    (140 votes)
  • 30%
    10) Deion Jones pick 6 in overtime clinches 30/30 season for Jameis Winston (2019)
    (60 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now

2) Julio Jones toe tap catch in 4th quarter of Super Bowl 51 (2016)

vs.

15) Garrett Hartley misses overtime kick and Matt Bryant drills the game winner in overtime to beat the Saints (2010)

As you can see from the video, Julio Jones put on a show throughout Super Bowl 51. The culmination of that show came in the form of an impossible 27-yard sideline catch, which was a brilliant play from both he and Matt Ryan. That got the Falcons into field goal range, already up 28-20, to put the game away. Julio did enough to win the Super Bowl, and had the rest of the team done its job this would have gone down as the greatest catch in Super Bowl history (helmet catch be damned).

The Falcons secured a big early season upset victory in New Orleans, against the defending Super Bounty Bowl champion Saints. It was as heartbreaking for New Orleans as it was sweet for Atlanta, as the hosts got into field goal range in overtime before Garrett Hartley missed a chip shot 29-yard field goal. The Falcons took advantage of the lifeline and won the game after Matt Ryan took them downfield and Matt Bryant converted a game-winning 46-yard field goal (his original 41 yarder was blocked but that was negated by a Sean Payton timeout).

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    2) Julio Jones toe tap catch in 4th quarter of Super Bowl 51 (2016)
    (148 votes)
  • 27%
    15) Garrett Hartley misses overtime kick and Matt Bryant drills the game-winner in overtime to beat the Saints (2010)
    (56 votes)
204 votes total Vote Now

The winner of the 1-16 matchup will face the winner of the 8-9 matchup in the next round. The winner of the 5-12 matchup will face the winner of the 4-13 matchup in the next round. The winner of the 6-11 matchup will face the winner of the 3-14 matchup in the next round. The winner of the 7-10 matchup will face the winner of the 2-15 matchup in the next round.

Our next article will be looking at the matchups in the first round of the second region of our bracket.