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Atlanta Falcons Greatest Moments Bracket: The Finals

A very Matt Ryan-centric final showdown.

We’ve reached the end of this journey, looking to crown the greatest moment in Atlanta Falcons history, as voted on by you guys. Appropriately, it’s on the final Sunday before the Falcons season, even. Before we move on to the final vote, I’d like to give some of my observations as well as a bit of a recap as to how we got here.

Matt Ryan is clearly a fan favorite, and for good reason. He is the shining figure who took the Falcons out of the doldrums and ushered in by far the greatest ever era in team history. Ryan represented three out of the final four plays which remained in this competition, and he stands alone in the finals today.

I was personally a little bit surprised at how poorly some of the great older moments in franchise history fared. Granted, they were much fewer and further between, it was a mild surprised seeing iconic moments like Big Ben Right and the 1980 Division Championship eliminated in the first round. Morten Andersen’s game winning kick in the 1998 NFC Championship Game was the only moment predating 2002 to make it past the second round.

There weren’t any real Cinderella runs made — no double digit seeds survived past the second round — but that’s not too surprising considering the fact that I used your votes to determine the seeding.

2008 was the season thought of most fondly according to the votes, as it had three moments which advanced to the Elite Eight and represented half of the moments in the Final Four.

Just one Julio Jones moment made it to the Elite Eight of this tournament — his 73-yard score against the Packers in the NFCCG — and not a single Mike Vick moment made it past the Sweet 16. Matt Ryan represented half of the Elite Eight, 75% of the Final Four and now 100% of the Finals.

Let’s see which of those moments rules the day.


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

vs.

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

(Please view on Youtube)

Matt Ryan being drafted was one of the moments I thought would find itself very deep in this tournament and it’s here right at the finish line. This moment made it here by eliminating Julio Jones’ two best playoff moments — both from the 2016 run — in back to back rounds, before disposing of the Matt Ryan last second comeback over the Bears in 2008, in the Final Four.

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.

Ryan’s masterful performance in 2016 made it here by beating the two greatest kicks in franchise history in the Elite Eight and then Final Four, respectively. Up until the Final Four, Ryan’s MVP year had won at least 70% of the vote in every single matchup. In the semi-finals it was faced with Morten Andersen’s kick, which had won 74% of the vote in every matchup until then — the equivalent of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. The only MVP in franchise history won out with 60% of the vote.

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

  • 25%
    3) Matt Ryan is drafted by the Falcons (2008)
    (64 votes)
  • 74%
    3) Matt Ryan becomes only player in franchise history to win MVP (2016)
    (183 votes)
247 votes total Vote Now