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Best Performances Of 2012

Posted Jan 31, 2013

AtlantaFalcons.com's 'Best of 2012' series looks back at all the games, players, plays and, in today's installment, the individual performances that led to a 13-3 regular-season record in 2012.

No. 5: Julio Jones vs. Bucs (Game 1)
It was a one-point win for the Falcons and it represented a career day (until later in the season) for Julio Jones. Easily the biggest play of the game came from Matt Ryan to Jones in the third quarter right after the Bucs took a 13-10 lead with a field goal. On the first play of the next possession, Ryan and Jones answered with an 80-yard bomb for a touchdown. It was the fifth TD pass of 70 yards or more of Ryan's career and turned out to be the longest scoring play of the 2012 season. Jones ended the day with six catches for 147 yards and the touchdown.

No. 4: Julio Jones vs. 49ers
Some have called it the single-best performance by a wide receiver all season and what Jones did to the 49ers in the playoffs served as the second-year wide receiver's true coming-out party. Against one of the best defenses in the league, Jones did his part with 11 catches, 182 yards and two touchdowns. By the time the first half was over, Jones had those two scores along with seven of his catches and 135 yards. Jones' first score demonstrated once again his game-breaking speed as he was able to get behind San Francisco's secondary and release for a 46-yard TD that had the Georgia Dome partying. He added his second TD in the second quarter on a 20-yard pass and all of this in the brightest lights of the playoffs. Jones' Pro Bowl season was cemented with his primetime performance and gave Falcons fans plenty to be excited about in the coming seasons.

No. 3: Tony Gonzalez vs. Saints (Game 1)
Although it didn't come in a winning effort, Gonzalez' game against the Saints was one of the best of his career, a Hall-of-Fame career. He caught 11 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns that day and that first TD was pretty historic. He became the first tight end in history and just the eighth player in history to record 100 touchdowns in a career. His second TD put him in sixth place on the all-time TD reception list. He became just the second player in history to catch 1,200 career passes and he also moved into eighth place on the all-time receiving yardage list. Finally, it was the 30th 100-yard game of his career, adding to the record he's already set for 100-yard games by a tight end.

No. 2: William Moore vs. Saints (Game 2)
It was a day in which the Falcons ended Saints QB Drew Brees' games-with-a-TD streak that spanned over three seasons and it happened primarily because the Falcons intercepted Brees five times, the first time in his career that has happened. It was a team effort, especially on defense, but Moore led the way. It wreaked havoc all over the field for four quarters, walking away with two Brees picks, a team-high 11 tackles, two tackles for loss and two passes defensed. His second interception was Brees' final pass of the day and extinguished all hope of a Saints comeback.

No. 1: Roddy White vs. Detroit
Entering the game there was some concern that White wouldn't even play against the Lions, but he did and he ran all over them, helping lead the Falcons to a win that clinched the NFC's top seed for the playoffs. White terrorized Detroit's secondary to the tune of eight catches and 153 yards and he scored two touchdowns in the first half. Perhaps most impressive is how White did it, turning his catches into big plays time after time. He averaged 19.1 yards per reception and it ended up being the 35th 100-yard game of his career. It also tied his own franchise record for 100-yard games in a single season, his seventh of the year. He also became just the sixth player in NFL history to record six consecutive seasons with 80 catches and 1,000 yards. White is part of the heart and soul of the Falcons and on a day when they weren't sure he'd even suit up, he managed to lead the way and set some records in the process.