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Atlanta Falcons Greatest Moments Bracket: Final Four

We’ve reached the best of the best. Today’s reward for victory: a spot in the finals.

The cream has risen to the top, with amazing plays being showcased and falling by the wayside in this bracket series. Today, we highlight and praise the four most legendary moments in Atlanta Falcons history, as decided by your votes.

The plays which remain will always be remembered and recalled in our hearts as situations of pure bliss in a tragic franchise history in which those kind plays have been too few and far between.

The rules remain constant — two matchups of two plays will go head to head, and your votes will determine who wins. Voting will be open for at least a week, with the winners advancing to the finals.


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

vs.

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

(Please view on Youtube)

An elite 3-seed in any bracket, the drafting of Matt Ryan ushered in the most successful era in Atlanta Falcons history (and it’s not particularly close). As a result, that moment rather predictably finds itself near the finish line. Two legendary Julio Jones catches in the scintillating 2016 Super Bowl run were both dispatched by the Number 3 selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.

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 between two incredible Matt Ryan moments from his rookie season in 2008, the incredible last second comeback against the Bears beat out Mattie Ice’s first professional pass, in the Elite Eight — 65%-35% — to set up a date against another magical moment from that same year.

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

  • 72%
    3) Matt Ryan is drafted by the Falcons (2008)
    (219 votes)
  • 27%
    2) Matt Ryan puts together a scoring drive in 6 seconds to come back against Chicago (2008)
    (83 votes)
302 votes total Vote Now

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

(Please view on Youtube)

vs.

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

(Please view on Youtube)

Morten Andersen kicking the Falcons into the Super Bowl is a Thanos-level juggernaut in this bracket. It’s dispatched some of the greatest moments in franchise history with complete ease, and is yet to generate less than 74% of the vote in a single matchup.

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.

Speaking of dominant, Matt Ryan’s MVP season has also been mowing down the competition, winning at least 70% of the vote in each matchup. Last round, it dispatched the second greatest kick in franchise history — Bryant’s game winner against Seattle in the 2012 Divisional Round — and it gets a matchup against the greatest kick as a reward.

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

  • 39%
    4) Morten Andersen kicks game-winning FG to beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game (1998)
    (125 votes)
  • 60%
    3) Matt Ryan becomes only player in franchise history to win MVP (2016)
    (191 votes)
316 votes total Vote Now