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Best Plays of 2012

Posted Feb 1, 2013

The 2012 season was full of amazing plays that thrilled us, made us nervous and seemingly stopped time. With the 2012 performances of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and William Moore, there were plenty to choose from as we count them down.

No. 10: William Moore's second interception vs. New Orleans (Game 2)
The secondary had a huge day against Saints quarterback Drew Brees when the two teams met at the Georgia Dome in 2012, and William Moore was one of the biggest reasons why. After already picking Brees off once in the game, Moore showed crazy speed and awareness to get the better of him a second time, stretching all the way out to haul in the pick before stepping out of bounds. The pick was the fifth Brees threw in the game and the first five-interception performance of his career.

No. 9: Michael Turner's screen pass touchdown vs. Carolina (Game 1)
Running back Michael Turner hadn't been used much in the passing game since coming on board with the Falcons in 2009, but under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, that changed. Turner's biggest contribution to the passion game came in a Week 4 matchup against Carolina, when he took a nifty little screen pass from Matt Ryan and rumbled 60 yards to the end zone.

No. 8: Roddy White's touchdown catch vs. Seattle
The Seahawks came into their NFC divisional round matchup with the Falcons boasting one of the best, if not the best, secondaries in the league, led by ultra-talented and outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman. Roddy White got the better of him, however, as White beat the CB, who fell down trying to catch up to the play, and hauled in a 47-yard touchdown pass.

No. 7: Tony Gonzalez's touchdown catch vs. New Orleans (Game 2)
Cover him any way you want to, but tight end Tony Gonzalez always finds himself open. With the Georgia Dome hyped up for the New Orleans Saints coming to town, Gonzalez made one of the biggest offensive plays in the 23-13 win. With former Falcon Curtis Lofton right in his face in coverage, Gonzalez made an incredible leaping grab that required as much focus as it did athleticism to help the Falcons roll over their NFC South rivals.

No. 6: Jacquizz Rodgers' physical run vs. Seattle
This was one of those plays that just makes you go 'Oooohhhh.' You wouldn't think looking at Jacquizz Rodgers' small frame that he'd be able to take too many physical hits, but that's what makes him so deceiving. Earl Thomas can certainly attest. Rodgers took a handoff from Matt Ryan and took off up the middle. Thomas came up to make the hit, but Rodgers got just a bit lower and physics took over. Thomas bounced off of Rodgers and Rodgers took off down the field, picking up 45 yards on the run.

No. 5: Julio Jones' 80-yard touchdown catch vs. Tampa Bay (Game 1)
Down by three points against the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, Julio Jones showed that flash we've all come to know and love. On first-and-10, Matt Ryan took a shot downfield and it paid off as Jones caught the deep ball, shook a tackle, turned on the afterburners and went down the sideline for an 80-yard score.

No. 4: Harry Douglas' seat-of-his-pants catch vs. Oakland
Harry Douglas' fourth-quarter catch wasn't the biggest of the season. It may not even be the best of the season. But it sure was one of the most memorable. Down 13-7 to the Raiders in the third quarter, Matt Ryan faced a third-and-2 from the Falcons' 37-yard line. Looking to extend the drive, Ryan looked to Douglas down the right side of the field. Raiders cornerback Joselio Hanson, running to defend the pass, was hit in the back by the ball, popping it up in the air. Douglas, noticing the pass was still in play, tried to adjust but fell — right on his rear end — as the ball floated right down into his awaiting arms.

No. 3: Asante Samuel's interception return for a touchdown vs. Oakland
It was moments like this why the Falcons moved to trade for Asante Samuel's services during the offseason. The Falcons were tied at 13 with the Raiders late in the fourth quarter as Oakland was driving in Falcons territory. That's when Samuel showed just why his nickname is Pick Six. Samuel jumped a route as the Raiders were facing third-and-6 and picked off Carson Palmer, Samuel running nearly at full speed when he caught the pass and took off down the field. About 70 yards later, Samuel found the end zone before Matt Bryant would save the day again with another game-winning field goal at the end.

No. 2: Julio Jones' toe-tapping TD vs. San Francisco
Big-time players show up in big-time games, and Julio Jones proved he was one in the NFC Championship as he quickly rolled up 120 receiving yards and a couple of touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers. His second was one of the biggest plays of the year. Working against tight coverage, Jones was able to find a slight bit of separation on the go-route in the end zone, haul in the pass and, with the smallest bit of real estate to work with, tap his feet down in-bounds to give the Falcons a 17-point lead at the start of the second quarter.

No. 1: Matt Ryan's 59-yard pass to Roddy White vs. Carolina (Game 1)
With their backs literally against the goal line and time at a premium, Ryan and White hooked up for the most exciting play of the season against Carolina in Week 4. Down by one point with 59 seconds left, Ryan found himself at his own 1-yard line with the chances of a comeback looking slim. Without even trying to get a little breathing room, Ryan took the snap from McClure and set himself in his own end zone. He waited and fired down the field a pass that seemed to hang in the air forever. Leaping to snag it was White, who cradled the ball against his shoulder for an unbelievable catch that, if not made, could have caused the Falcons' first loss of the season. Four plays later, Matt Bryant kicked the 40-yard game-winner to keep the Falcons unbeaten.