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Best Games of 2012

Posted Jan 29, 2013

AtlantaFalcons.com's 'Best of 2012' series kicks off today as we count down the best games of 2012, featuring the heroics of the Falcons' pair of Matty Ices


No. 5 Falcons vs. Panthers (Game 1): The comebacks the Falcons became known for this season began in Week 4 against the Panthers. The NFC South foe threatened Atlanta's fast 3-0 start, but Matt Ryan had the last laugh as the Falcons came back to win 30-28. With 58 seconds remaining, Ryan took over on the Atlanta 1-yard line and with the first play of the drive he connected with Roddy White on a 59-yard pass to immediately give hope to the Georgia Dome crowd. A pass each to Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas got the Falcons to 22-yard line and Matt Bryant hit a 40-yarder to give the Falcons their first comeback victory of the season.

No. 4 Falcons vs. Saints (Game 2): After their first loss of the season came at the hands of the Saints earlier in the season, the Falcons took Round 2 to Thursday night and a national television audience. Atlanta's defense forced five interceptions from Drew Brees and they were the talk of the night. Led by safety William Moore's two picks, the Falcons ended Brees' streak of 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass and improved to 11-1. In the second quarter, Ryan hit Gonzalez for a 6-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 14-0 and while the Saints jumped back in the game briefly, the Falcons were able to close them out with a 55-yard field goal in the fourth quarter from Bryant.

No. 3 Falcons vs. Broncos: In a Monday night showcase, the Falcons picked off future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning three times in the first quarter and jumped out to a 20-7 first-half lead. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan used a creative game plan that included pre- and post-snap looks that confused Manning, aiding in the three interceptions. Once again, the Falcons defense was led by William Moore, who picked off one Manning pass and added a sack to go along with eight tackles, one tackle for loss and two passes defensed. Though it was just the second win of the season for the Falcons, it established them as a team to watch in the 2012 season.

No. 2 Falcons vs. Giants: In a true statement game, the Falcons beat the defending Super Bowl champs 34-0 in Week 15. Asante Samuel got the first of two team interceptions against the Giants when he picked off Eli Manning's first pass attempt of the game in the first quarter and set up Atlanta's first score of the game. Thomas DeCoud added a second INT in the second quarter and the Falcons used three touchdowns from Ryan and 129 rushing yards from their stable of running backs to pound the Giants and show everyone that Atlanta can be a dominant team against a playoff-caliber franchise.

No. 1 Falcons vs. Seahawks: Following a first-round bye in the playoffs, the Falcons secured their first playoff win under head coach Mike Smith and did so in dramatic fashion. After jumping out to an impressive 20-0 halftime lead, the Falcons allowed the Seahawks to storm back in the second half, giving up the lead late in the fourth quarter. In a situation very similar to the Carolina game earlier in the season, the Falcons took over their final possession with 31 seconds remaining and the playoffs on the line. Ryan connected with Douglas and Gonzalez for 22 and 19 yards and just like that they found themselves on the Seattle 31-yard line with a chance to win with 13 seconds to go. Bryant's first field goal attempt missed, but Seattle's head coach Pete Carroll's timeout just before the kick meant Bryant would get another chance. That kick, a 49-yard attempt, split the uprights and Atlanta took a 30-28 lead. The game-winning kick was Bryant's sixth as a member of the Falcons since 2009 and his third of the 2012 season. It was also his second-longest game-winning field goal as a member of the Falcons, behind only the 55-yarder against the Saints.