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Best of 2010: Games


With the end of the Falcons' season, managing editor Jay Adams and contributing writer Daniel Cox will take a look back at a tremendous 13-3 regular season that was filled with thrills and chills in this week's 'Best of 2010' series. Today, Daniel Cox had the unenviable task of ranking the top five games in a season full of great memories

5. Week 9's 27-21 win over Tampa Bay: When your starting defensive tackle gets an interception, the game is sure to be memorable. Jonathan Babineaux snagged a Josh Freeman pass off a tip from defensive end Kroy Biermann and it set the Falcons starting defensive line on a course that saw each of them bring down a pass from an opposing quarterback in 2010.

The best part about the Week 9 win was the defense finally got a chance to preserve a win in the same fashion the offense had posted some late-game heroics in previous weeks.

Leading 27-21, the Falcons saw the Bucs take over on their own 9-yard line and drive all the way to the 2. Facing a fourth-and-1 situation on the 2-yard line, Atlanta stopped Tampa running back LeGarrette Blount in his attempt to help put the Bucs ahead with just more than two minutes remaining.

Defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson plugged a hole and safety Thomas DeCoud met Blount at the 2 for no gain and the win.

4. Week 10's 26-21 win over Baltimore: A primetime affair on Thursday night had the Falcons ready to face one of the league's premier teams. It turned out to be one for the ages as quarterback Matt Ryan had one of his best games of the season and one of his best moments, as well.

After surrendering the lead with less than two minutes remaining, the Falcons' offense took over and Ryan seized the national spotlight to show why he's called "Matty Ice."

With 1:05 left on the clock, Ryan drove Atlanta all the way down the field on all pass attempts, converting two third downs before connecting with wide receiver Roddy White for a 33-yard touchdown with 27 seconds remaining. The win was the Falcons' seventh and kept them in first place in the NFC South.

3. Week 4's 16-14 win over San Francisco: This win may go down in franchise history as one of the all-timers not because of another come-from-behind win (the second in a row) but because of the head's up, all-effort play from the Pro Bowler White.

San Francisco cornerback Nate Clements intercepted Ryan late in the fourth quarter with the Falcons down by one point. Clements returned the interception, thinking touchdown and icing the game, but White had another ideas.

The wide receiver chased down the cornerback and stripped the ball, forcing a fumble that guard Harvey Dahl recovered.

Given new life on their own 7-yard line, Ryan and the Falcons drove to the 25 before kicker Matt Bryant finished the deal, hitting 43-yard field goal with six seconds left to give Atlanta its third win of the season.

2. Week 12's 20-17 win over Green Bay: Bryant was given the chance to hit his third game-winning kick of the season and he delivered in a matchup of another playoff caliber team.

Return man Eric Weems began to show the potential to be the Pro Bowler he became with a big return to put the Falcons on Green Bay's 49-yard line. After piecing together drives that took up more than 30 minutes of the game, Ryan began with less than a minute remaining.

Four-of-five passing from Ryan landed the Falcons on the Packers' 29-yard line and Bryant hit a 47-yarder to take the lead. With just nine seconds left, there was little Green Bay could do to take back the lead.

1. Week 3's 27-24 win over New Orleans: Facing your rival and beating them is always a good thing. Beating them on the road is even better. It's the best when they're the Super Bowl champs.

The Falcons put the league on notice that they were legit with their win over the Saints early in the 2010 season. The game featured many of the traits that Falcons fans would familiarize themselves with in this season, long offensive drives, a Matt Ryan comeback and and Matt Bryant game-winning kick.

Atlanta controlled the ball for 45:50 of the overtime-forced game and no drive was more telling of how the Falcons beat the Saints than their epic 19-play, 72-yard drive in the second quarter that ate up 10:39 off the clock. The drive ended with a touchdown that tied the game before the half and gave Atlanta some much needed momentum.

The Saints tied the game at the end of regulation, but a missed 29-yard field goal in overtime gave the Falcons one more chance, and when Ryan and Co. are given too many chances, they'll often make opponents regret it.

Ryan patiently drove the Falcons down the field, mixing run and pass plays before ending up at the 28-yard line. Bryant hit the field goal and Atlanta was suddenly in the conversation around the best team in the NFC.

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