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Atlanta Falcons Greatest Moments Bracket: Sweet 16

You votes determine who wins the matchups and, as a result, moves on to the Elite 8.

Welcome to the next level, where the cream has started rising to the top, and the matchups begin to get excruciatingly difficult to decide.

Each moment remaining on the list has won two matchups so far. Many of the true heavyweights still remain, but we have seen some fun upsets. The fun part about a head to head voting style is that you never know what matchups will go what way.

The head to head format continues, with the moment which has the most votes going through. The winners of these matchups will have a spot in the Elite 8.


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

vs.

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

(Play occurs at 38:32 mark. Please view on Youtube)

It’s been back to back comfortable margins of victory for Julio’s big play in the NFC Championship game, winning 75% of the vote over the 2004 Divisional Round play victory — flexing its muscle as a deserved 1-seed thus far.

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.

Vick’s physics-defying run went up against a potential Cinderella 13-seed in Michael Turner’s free agent signing in Round 2, and the results were rather close — 55%-45%. Nonetheless, this particular run has now surprisingly outlasted Vick’s run against the Vikings in this tournament.

The Falcons don’t secure a first round bye in 2004 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 complete 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.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    1) Julio Jones 73-yard dagger receiving touchdown vs. Packers in NFC Championship Game (2016)
    (153 votes)
  • 15%
    5) Mike Vick 4th and goal touchdown run to force OT vs. Panthers (2004)
    (28 votes)
181 votes total Vote Now

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

vs.

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

(Play occurs at 1:07 mark. Will need to be watched on YouTube).

The fanbase loves Matt Ryan, and it’s no surprise that the team selecting him with the 3rd pick in 2008 has been such a juggernaut of a moment, winning 92% of the vote in Round 1 and then disposing of Deion Sanders’ debut punt return TD with 76% of the vote in Round 2.

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.

In a battle of moments featuring Atlanta’s two best WRs of all time, Julio Jones’ incredible Super Bowl highlight bested Roddy White’s supreme hustle play by a 67%-33% margin in Round 2. Jones’ catch has had a couple of steady victories now.

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).

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    3) Matt Ryan is drafted by the Falcons (2008)
    (105 votes)
  • 41%
    2) Julio Jones toe tap catch in 4th quarter of Super Bowl 51 (2016)
    (73 votes)
178 votes total Vote Now

8) Matt Ryan throws 59-yard pass to Roddy White from his own 1 to help set up a game-winning Matt Bryant field goal vs. Carolina (2012)

(please view on youtube)

vs.

4) Matt Ryan’s first professional pass is a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins (2008)

It’s been mostly chalk in this tournament up to this point, as was expected, but the Matt Ryan to Roddy White connection against the Panthers came away with a very impressive upset in Round 2, taking down Vick’s walkoff TD run against the Vikings, and it did so by a comfortable margin of 65%-35%. This is the lowest seeded play remaining.

Matt Ryan had garnered a reputation for his fourth quarter comebacks throughout the early part of his career, but he really outdid himself in a Week 4 matchup against the upstart Panthers in 2012. Backed up at his own 1-yard-line with less than a minute remaining, he uncorked one of the best passes of his career to Roddy White for a 59-yard gain which helped lead to a game-winning Matt Bryant field goal to help the Falcons stay undefeated. It was the definition of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Ryan’s first professional pass has thus far dispatched two of the great older plays in team history, beating the 1980 Division Winning season in Round 1 and then the 1978 Wallace Francis game winning TD to help win the first ever playoff game in franchise history in Round 2. Let’s see how it does against another Matt Ryan pass in this round.

Has anyone ever made a first impression quite like Matt Ryan in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions in 2008? The hotly debated 3rd overall selection out of Boston College silenced the doubters briefly when he dropped back and threw what ended up being a 62-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins on his first career throw in the NFL. Ryan would of course prove his worth as the 3rd pick, and this will always be remembered as one of those seminal moments in his career.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    8) Matt Ryan throws 59-yard pass to Roddy White from his own 1 to help set up a game-winning Matt Bryant field goal vs. Carolina (2012)
    (65 votes)
  • 61%
    4) Matt Ryan’s first professional pass is a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins (2008)
    (105 votes)
170 votes total Vote Now

6) Matt Ryan completes the comeback against Packers a with game-winning TD pass to Mohamed Sanu (2016)

(Please view on Youtube)

vs.

2) Matt Ryan puts together a scoring drive in 6 seconds to come back against Chicago (2008)

(Please view on Youtube)

To be fully transparent, I did not think the game-winning Sanu catch against the Packers in 2016 would beat the drafting of Julio Jones in Round 2, but it did so by taking 58% of the vote. I can’t help but wonder if the recent Jones trade had an impact on voting in that matchup.

The 2016 Falcons put everything together in Dan Quinn and Kyle Shanahan’s second year coaching the team. Following a series of impressive wins in what seemed like an early season gauntlet on the schedule, Atlanta lost back to back games before making a statement with a win against the Green Bay Packers. With Julio Jones relentlessly doubled, Mohamed Sanu stepped up, particularly on the final drive, in a comeback victory. Sanu hauled in five receptions for 50 yards on Atlanta’s final drive, including an impressive turnaround game-winning catch in the end zone with 32 seconds remaining. It was Sanu’s finest moment as a Falcon.

Ryan’s incredible comeback in his rookie year is the type of play which nostalgia is known for, and fans have tapped into that nostalgia to make this moment an incredibly strong 2-seed. After taking 90% of the vote in Round 1, it enjoyed a victory over the drafting of Tommy Nobis with 60% of the vote.

You can’t describe what the “It Factor” is in words, you kind of just know it when you see it, and the NFL saw that Matt Ryan had “It” as early as Week 6 of his rookie season. Down 20-19 against the Chicago Bears, with 6 seconds remaining and the ball on his own 44-yard-line, Ryan launched a pristine sideline pass, while getting leveled, to Michael Jenkins 26 yards down the field with one second to spare (shoutout to Jenkins for the wonderful toe tap catch as well). That set up the game-winning field goal which was nailed by Jason Elam, and it demonstrated to Falcons fans that they had something special with the rookie out of Boston College.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    6) Matt Ryan completes the comeback against Packers a with game-winning TD pass to Mohamed Sanu (2016)
    (39 votes)
  • 76%
    2) Matt Ryan puts together a scoring drive in 6 seconds to come back against Chicago (2008)
    (130 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now

1) Mike Vick leads the underdog Falcons to playoff victory against the Packers at Lambeau Field (2002)

vs.

4) Morten Andersen kicks game-winning FG to beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game (1998)

(Please view on Youtube)

Vick’s finest moment as a Falcon has had an easy go of it thus far, winning 90% and then 76% of the vote in its first two matchups as a very formidable 1-seed. Something tells me that things are about to get much harder, however.

The excitement and promise of the Mike Vick era in Atlanta reached a fever pitch in the 2002 playoffs, when the second-year quarterback led Atlanta to a decisive playoff victory in cold Green Bay in the Wildcard round. This was the Packers’ first playoff loss at Lambeau Field ever (13-0 previously), and was Packer quarterback Brett Favre’s first career loss in sub-34 degree temperature (35-0 previously). Atlanta’s defense and their “DVD” rushing attack put it all together to create one of the most memorable playoff moments ever for the franchise.

Morten Andersen’s game-winning kick against the Vikings isn’t your ordinary 4-seed, as demonstrated by the way its been mauling the competition thus far — winning 94% of the vote in each of the first two rounds.

Morten Andersen’s kick is probably the strongest 4-seed you’ll ever see in any bracket. The 1998 Falcons were given next to no chance of beating the super-powered 15-1 Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. Those Vikings felt like a team whose name was ready to be pre-engraved on the Super Bowl trophy, but titles aren’t won on paper. Gary Anderson, Minnesota’s All-Pro kicker who hadn’t missed a single kick all year, missed a 38-yard field goal which would have put the game away. Atlanta responded with a Terrance Mathis touchdown to tie it, before Morten Andersen didn’t miss on his kick in overtime, giving the Birds their first ever Super Bowl appearance, and haunting the nightmares of Vikings fans ever since.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    1) Mike Vick leads the underdog Falcons to playoff victory against the Packers at Lambeau Field (2002)
    (46 votes)
  • 73%
    4) Morten Andersen kicks game-winning FG to beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game (1998)
    (128 votes)
174 votes total Vote Now

3) Julio Jones touchdown over Luke Kuechly helps the Falcons end Carolina’s undefeated season (2015)

(Please view on Youtube)

vs.

2) Deion Jones game-winning interception in the end zone against the Saints on TNF (2017)

After a comfortable victory in Round 1, Julio Jones’ catch over Luke Kuechly had a much more difficult time of it in the second round against Grady Jarrett’s 3-sack Super Bowl. Nonetheless, the famous play which ended a perfect season went through with 53% of the vote.

The 2015 Falcons made a dream start to the Dan Quinn era, winning their first five games of the season before crashing and burning by losing seven of their next eight after that. In Week 16 they welcomed the undefeated 14-0 Carolina Panthers, who had just pulverized them 37-0 in Charlotte two weeks prior. Carolina was seeking just the second perfect 16-game regular season in NFL history. With pride of the line, the Falcons fought tooth and nail and took a second half lead they would never relinquish. That happened on a 3rd-and-13 hail marry pass from Matt Ryan which Julio Jones caught downfield directly over All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly for a 70-yard touchdown. Atlanta used that score to give Carolina its only regular season defeat of 2015.

Deion Jones’ finest moment as a Falcon has had a couple of steady victories, disposing of Julio’s eruption against the Bucs and then Roddy White’s Divisional Round score against the Seahawks thus far. Can Debo’s pick continue to take down memorable moments featuring Atlanta’s best wide receivers?

The Thursday Night Football matchup between the Falcons and Saints in Week 14 had potential playoff implications, a choke sign from Sean Payton to Devonta Freeman referencing Super Bowl 51 and as much bad blood as there always is when these two teams meet, especially on the national stage. It was a back and forth game where neither team led by more than one possession at any point and which had the stage set for a game-winning Drew Brees touchdown drive to rip out Falcon hearts. Brees led the Saints to the Atlanta 11-yard-line with 1:30 remaining before trying to force a pass into double coverage to Josh Hill (on a verts play) which Deion Jones promptly intercepted in the end zone. Atlanta snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and psychologically crushed the Saints and their fanbase all in one play. And it was seen by the entire country.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    3) Julio Jones touchdown over Luke Kuechly helps the Falcons end Carolina’s undefeated season (2015)
    (55 votes)
  • 66%
    2) Deion Jones game-winning interception in the end zone against the Saints on TNF (2017)
    (111 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now

1) Matt Bryant kicks game-winning FG against Seattle to put Atlanta into the NFCCG (2012)

vs.

4) Falcons intercept Drew Brees 5 times on TNF, and break his TD streak (2012)

Matt Bryant’s game winner against the Seahawks has thus far flexed it muscle as a 1-seed, winning 92% of the vote in Round 1 and handily eliminating a massive 1998 franchise win against the 49ers in the Divisional Round in Round 2 by a 67%-33% margin.

The 2012 Divisional Round game against the Seahawks carried a lot of weight for the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan tandem, who were 0-3 in the playoffs previously. Controlling everything throughout most of the afternoon, the Falcons led 27-7 going into the 4th quarter before collapsing and allowing 21 unanswered points. In the most important drive of his career up to that point, Ryan completed two clutch passes to Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez to get into field goal range before Matt Bryant nailed a 49-yard kick to send the Falcons into the NFC Championship Game and the Georgia Dome into delirium.

Due to this franchise’s disdain of the Saints, the incredible 5-interception game of Drew Brees is another 4-seed which seems to be a lot more powerful than seeding would indicate. That proved to be the case when it disposed of Robert Alford’s Super Bowl pick 6 in Round 2 by a 63%-37% margin.

In a pregame speech ahead of a Week 13 Thursday Night Football matchup against the 10-1 Falcons, Drew Brees declared that this was still New Orleans’ division and that Atlanta knew that as well. Brees had broken Johnny Unitas’ record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass earlier in the season and had that streak come to a halt when the Falcons not only kept him out of the end zone but also intercepted him five times later that night. Atlanta secured a strong win and Brees went on to throw at least one TD pass in his next 45 consecutive games after this one. This was the worst game I’ve ever seen Drew Brees play, as Mike Nolan’s defense stifled him all evening.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    1) Matt Bryant kicks game-winning FG against Seattle to put Atlanta into the NFCCG (2012)
    (101 votes)
  • 39%
    4) Falcons intercept Drew Brees 5 times on TNF, and break his TD streak (2012)
    (65 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now

3) Matt Ryan becomes only player in franchise history to win MVP (2016)

(Please view on Youtube)

vs.

2) Julio Jones erupts for 300 receiving yards against Carolina (2016)

(Please view on Youtube)

Matt Ryan winning the MVP award in 2016 was a special moment for this franchise, and the fanbase has thus far reacted accordingly, helping that moment mow through its first two matchups with 89% and then 78% of the vote. Billy “White Shoes” Johnsons’ electric game winner was the victim in Round 2.

Following some struggles in 2015, something just clicked for Matt Ryan within Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme. After a rough Week 1, everything started humming along for Atlanta’s offense, which scored the most points per game in the NFL in 2016 and the 9th-most in NFL history up to that point. Ryan threw for 4,944 passing yards (second in the NFL), 38 passing touchdowns (second in the NFL), had a league-high 117.1 passer rating and had 9.3 yards per passing attempt, which is the highest mark in NFL history among QBs with a minimum of 400 attempts. The result — he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, the first and only Falcon to ever achieve that feat.

Julio Jones’ 300-yard game was one of the seminal moments of Atlanta’s fabulous 2016 regular season, and it proved to be too strong for even the 1991 playoff victory over the Saints in New Orleans, winning 63% of the vote in that matchup. Now it faces off against the other great moment from 2016.

What the Carolina Panthers were thinking when faced with an inspired Julio Jones in Week 4 of the 2016 season I don’t know. A week earlier, the Saints relentlessly double teamed Jones and were burned for it by a brilliantly called game from Kyle Shanahan. Carolina went into this one dead set on giving Julio one on one coverage and the results were as you’d expect. Jones had 12 receptions for 300 receiving yards and a long 75-yard touchdown catch which served as the dagger. This was the 6th ever 300-yard receiving performance in NFL history and it helped Matt Ryan attain a career high 503 passing yards as well. Bene Benwikere, who was Julio’s primary defender, was cut after this game.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    3) Matt Ryan becomes only player in franchise history to win MVP (2016)
    (122 votes)
  • 26%
    2) Julio Jones erupts for 300 receiving yards against Carolina (2016)
    (43 votes)
165 votes total Vote Now

The winners of these matchups will face each other in the Elite 8 as the tournament turns a corner and starts to enter its final phases.

Consider this a big of a halftime break in regard to this bracket series. We will continue it with the Elite 8, Final 4 and final matchup in about a month.