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Atlanta Falcons Greatest Moments Bracket: Region 4, Round 2

The second round concludes.

We find ourselves going steadily along, now in the second round of this bracket. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for their favorite plays in the first round, and I hope that this is as fun of an exercise for your to participate in as it is for me to write about.

The first round of the first region has been completed. You can look back at those results here. however, voting has been officially closed. The winners go up against each other in this round, with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.

The rules continue to be the same. It’s a head to head format and the moment in each matchup with the most wins will advance.

I have also seen your concerns regarding some of the videos which could not be played. I have done my best to put in alternate videos which hopefully will work, however, the NFL has done its best to block off almost all of their videos from being viewed on this platform.


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

(Please view on Youtube)

vs.

8) Defense holds on to beat San Francisco and to secure a place in the NFCCG (1998)

Matt Bryant’s kick is the overall 1-seed in the tournament based on number of votes generated in the seeding portion, and it proved its might in round 1, getting 92% of the vote against Brooks Reed’s game winning sack against Chicago.

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.

The 8-9 matchup wasn’t as close in votes as it was on paper, with the masses enjoying the 1998 playoff victory a lot more than a 1978 regular season game against the Saints which helped the Falcons make the playoffs. The win against the 49ers garnered 74% of the vote.

The 1998 “Dirty Bird” Falcons, led by Jamal Anderson, went into the playoffs on the back of a 9-game winning streak, securing the best regular season in franchise history, and renewing a rivalry against the division foe 49ers in the Divisional Round. In a nail-biting game that went down to the wire, the offense wasted enough time, the special teams pinned them deep and the defense made a final stand against Steve Young after San Fran got to within two. This win punched Atlanta’s ticket to Minnesota in the 1998 NFC Championship Game.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    1) Matt Bryant kicks game-winning FG against Seattle to put Atlanta into the NFCCG (2012)
    (72 votes)
  • 32%
    8) Defense holds on to beat San Francisco and to secure a place in the NFCCG (1998)
    (35 votes)
107 votes total Vote Now

5) Robert Alford’s secures pick 6 against Tom Brady in Super Bowl 51 (2016)

(Please view on Youtube)

vs.

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

Alford’s wonderful pick 6 of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl had a comfortable victory over William Moore’s skillful tackle in a regular season game. The final results of that matchup were 71%-29%.

I don’t know if any singular play, in a vacuum, gave me more unbridled joy in the moment than the Robert Alford pick 6 in Super Bowl 51. Up 14-0 and controlling the game in the 2nd quarter, Alford undercut a pass from a driving Tom Brady and completely solidified Atlanta’s momentum with an 82-yard touchdown while holding up the “A” with his fingers as he glided into the end zone. I imagine that this would have been a bonafide 1-seed had the Falcons not collapsed.

Few things make the fanbase happier than seeing the Saints fail, and the Falcons forcing that failure against Drew Brees multiple times in 2012 made for a lopsided victory to the tune of 86% of the vote being won against Ben Garland’s safety of Russell Wilson.

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. 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

  • 37%
    5) Robert Alford’s secures pick 6 against Tom Brady in Super Bowl 51 (2016)
    (40 votes)
  • 62%
    4) Falcons intercept Drew Brees 5 times on TNF, and break his TD streak (2012)
    (67 votes)
107 votes total Vote Now

6) Billy “White Shoes” Johnson scores game-winning Hail Mary TD against 49ers (1983)

(Please view on Youtube)

vs.

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

(Please view on Youtube)

In a battle between electric plays, the lasting relevance of Billy Johnson’s incredible hail marry catch beat recency bias which was on the side of Taylor Gabriel’s screen pass TDs. “White Shoes” garnered 74% of the vote.

Steve Bartkowski sure had his fair share of last second heroics. Against Joe Montana and the soon to be division champion San Francisco 49ers, fortune smiled on Bart once again on a last second hail marry, dubbed “Big Ben II.” Down 24-21 with 2 seconds remaining and 47 yards from the end zone, Bartkowski connected with the electric Billy “White Shoes” Johnson on a pass which was caught at the 7-yard-line (on a tipped pass, just like Big Ben Right). From there, Johnson weaved his way through a cascade of 49ers and stretched the ball just enough as he was tackled down at around the 2-yard-line. You’d be hard pressed to find a more exciting finish to an NFL game.

Matt Ryan winning the MVP award in 2016 always felt like a massive favorite against a regular season win over the Giants, and that proved to be the case with an 89%-11% margin which we saw from that matchup in round 1.

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.

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    6) Billy "White Shoes" Johnson scores game-winning Hail Mary TD against 49ers (1983)
    (24 votes)
  • 77%
    3) Matt Ryan becomes only player in franchise history to win MVP (2016)
    (84 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now

7) Michael Haynes scores game-winning receiving touchdown as Falcons knock the Saints out of the playoffs (1991)

vs.

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

(Please view on Youtube)

Few moments are greater than a defeat of the New Orleans Saints, and no victory over the Saints was bigger than the playoff win in 1991. Not even the brilliant free agent signing of Alex Mack stood a chance against it. Haynes’ dagger won 67% of the vote.

The heated rivalry between the Falcons and Saints went to another level in 1991 when the two teams met in New Orleans in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, after finishing first and second in the NFC West (New Orleans’ first ever division title). Atlanta fought back from an early 10-0 deficit, benefiting from timely forced turnovers and very dumb Saints penalties to see the game tied at 20 in the fourth quarter. With 2:50 remaining in the game, Chris Miller connected on a pass with Michael Haynes at the Atlanta 47-yard-line before Haynes made a move on the defender and outran every Saint in sight for a game-winning 61-yard touchdown catch. That proved to be the difference, dispatching New Orleans in what was their best ever season up to that point.

Julio Jones going for 300 receiving yards in a game was a rare feat in NFL history. As such, Jay Feely’s game winning kick didn’t stand much of a chance in the first round. The final tally was 87%-13%

Poll

Which play wins?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    7) Michael Haynes scores game-winning receiving touchdown as Falcons knock the Saints out of the playoffs (1991)
    (40 votes)
  • 63%
    2) Julio Jones erupts for 300 receiving yards against Carolina (2016)
    (69 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now

The winner of the 1-8 matchup will face the winner of the 4-5 matchup in the next round. The winner of the 3-6 matchup will face the winner of the 2-7 matchup in the next round.

Our next article will be looking at matchups in the Sweet 16.