With the end of the Falcons' season, AtlantaFalcons.com 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, Jay Adams ranks the top five plays in a season packed with memorable ones
5. Roddy Saves The Day Vs. Baltimore: We had seen flashes of what was about to happen with the Falcons took over with 1:05 left and down by one point to the always difficult Baltimore Ravens. Quarterback Matt Ryan had led comebacks before this season and, despite facing one of the league's best defenses, you had to have the feeling that it was going to happen again with tough-as-nails kicker Matt Bryant providing the winning points. But Ryan must have felt like providing a bit of a different ending.
With seconds left on the clock and it looking like the Falcons were trying to get into field position, Ryan delivered a pass over the middle to sure-handed Roddy White who needed merely to jog down the left side of the field and into the end zone for what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown. The play allowed the Falcons to move to 7-2 on the season and wrap up a three-game home stint with three wins.
4. When Chauncey Goes Marching In: Things were vastly different the second time the Falcons and Saints faced off in the season, a Dec. 27 meeting at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons' offense struggled to get moving against a tough New Orleans defense, and while the score was close throughout the game, a big play on either side could turn the tide just enough.
Down 10-7 in the second half, the Saints started an offensive drive in their own end. Trying to make something happen under heavy pressure by defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, Saints quarterback Drew Brees tried to fling a pass to the flat, but defensive end Chauncey Davis was the only one there waiting for it. He snagged the errant pass and rumbled 26 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Saints would eventually take a late lead to win the game, but Davis' heads-up play provided a spark the Falcons needed at the time.
3. Pick Party For The Defensive Line: The Falcons' defensive line did their best impression of the secondary throughout the year as the unit accounted for four interceptions in 2010. But it all got started with Kroy Biermann's eye-popping play in Cleveland that sealed the 20-10 win.
Clinging to a 13-10 lead, the Falcons needed a defensive stop when Cleveland's offense took the field late in the fourth quarter. Biermann came off right tackle at the snap untouched and was right on top of Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme as Delhomme tried to pass to the flat. Biermann got his hands up and tipped the pass. That would have been enough, but Biermann followed the ball the whole time with his eyes and made an unbelievable diving catch to secure the pick.
That, too, would have been enough, but Biermann had the presence of him to get off the ground, dust himself off and turn on the jets toward the end zone. His 31-yard touchdown return would have been the biggest of the season if not for the next two.
2. Special Weems, Of Course: All season up to a Week 13 showdown with the Bucs at Tampa Bay, it looked like kick/punt returner Eric Weems was just one block, one step or one missed tackle away from breaking a big one for a touchdown. When it finally happened, it couldn't have come at a better time.
The Falcons found themselves down by 10 points with just 10 minutes left to the host Bucs on Dec. 5. Set to receive the kick, there was just something about Weems at that moment that said he could turn the game around. And, boy, did he.
Weems took the kick 2 yards deep in the end zone and darted up the middle of the field. Around the 15, he made a dramatic turn toward the right sideline to avoid a couple of tacklers. Hemmed in near the sideline, Weems made an amazing stop-and-go move to avoid a defender. A couple of fantastic blocks later and Weems was jogging into the end zone for a touchdown that put the Falcons right back into the game.
Atlanta would go on to win that game 28-24 and earn a season sweep of Tampa Bay.
1. Roddy Saves The Day Vs. San Francisco: It was one of those moments where hope was high for Falcons fans only to be quickly stripped away, only to be given right back again. Week 4's matchup with the San Francisco provided plenty of roller coaster moments. The Falcons were down by 14 at one point in the game and then came roaring back.
Late in the fourth quarter down 14-13, Ryan had a chance to earn his second straight comeback as he led the Falcons to an overtime win over the Saints in New Orleans the previous week. Hopes were high that Matty Ice could deliver. Facing second-and-9 near midfield with 1:30 left, Ryan tried to move the Falcons closer to a field goal attempt.
Coming over the middle was the ever-reliable Tony Gonzalez. Ryan flung the pass to Gonzalez, but 49ers star cornerback Nate Clements was lurking nearby and jumped in front of the pass and took off toward the end zone. The play, at that moment, looked to ice the game for the 49ers. All they had to do was get Clements on the ground, get the offense on the field, run the ball twice to kill the clock and take the long trip back home to San Francisco with an East Coast win.
But you can never, ever could the Falcons out, especially if White is still on the field. As Clements took off down the left sideline, he didn't see White creeping up behind him. With a powerful punch, White knocked the ball loose from Clements' grasp. The ball rolled on the ground for a moment before a hustling Harvey Dahl dove on it at the 7-yard line.
Ryan had a second chance to get the win and he didn't disappoint. He drove the Falcons' offense into 49ers territory and Bryant came out for the game-winning kick.