As we wrap up 2010, we look back at a monumental year for the Atlanta Falcons. The team has achieved honors from across the league and now sits with a 13-3 at the top of the NFC. As we look forward to the playoffs, I want to take a look back at my picks for the top six moments (I couldn't settle on five) of the Falcons' regular season on the gridiron.
Eric Weems' kick return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Let's just say it now — Weems does everything as a special teamer. He's a versatile player and can now be grouped in with those who can run a kick all the way back to the end zone for a TD. This, coupled with his timely tackling on special teams, has helped him secure a spot in the Pro Bowl — and congratulations to him! I remember watching him run, and screaming at my TV, "Go! Go! Go!" It's clear that Tampa Bay, despite being a young team, is brimming with talent, and the Bucs put up a fight during both meetings with the Falcons. Without Weems' phenomenal kick return in the second game, however, we may not have had the same outcome. I think a new, strong rivalry between the Birds and the Bucs has begun.
Matt Ryan to Roddy White for the game-winning touchdown against the Ravens
This was another heart-stopping, hold-your-breath kind of game. The clock was showing barely more than one minute left in regulation, and I know everyone was feeling nervous about what the potential outcome of the game would be. But then, like magic, Ryan throws a dart to White and White was in for the touchdown! I don't think I've ever jumped up and down or screamed that much in my life. Falcons fans, I may have even shed a tear. Ah, the beauty of football.
Kroy Biermann's Defensive Brilliance vs. the Cleveland Browns
Biermann proved that he has what it takes to be a game-changer for the Falcons. In the fourth quarter against the Browns, he tipped a pass thrown by Jake Delhomme on a third down, caught it and returned it for a touchdown, which led to the Falcons win. Un-be-lievable. I want to watch that play over and over again in super slow-mo just to watch the sheer brilliance of it. Way to go Kroy, you sure showed Atlanta how you rise up!
White on the Defense?
When you think of White, you think of a high-flying, touchdown-catching machine, so imagine everyone's shock when he made the defensive play of the game, and possibly one of the best plays of the season! The two-minute warning had sounded in the fourth quarter, and the 49ers' Nate Clements intercepted Ryan and took off in a sprint. Now, this could go one of two ways: it would end in a San Francisco touchdown — or, someone on the Falcons would come to the defensive rescue. Naturally, the latter happened and White stripped the ball from Clements, leading to a forced fumble which was then recovered by Harvey Dahl. This series of events gave the Falcons the opportunity to run offense one last time and ended in a field goal that won the game. Epic.
Tony Gonzalez's 1,000th Career Catch
Gonzalez is the most prolific tight end in NFL history, and there is no doubt he's headed straight to the Hall of Fame. It made me a proud fan to watch him hit this major milestone in a Falcons uniform against Pittsburgh. Tony G. is the only tight end in NFL history to reach the 1,000 catch mark, and he is the seventh player (regardless of position) to ever reach it. That's nothing short of incredible. His accomplishment was honored at the Georgia Dome and he has been praised league-wide for his dedication to this incredible game we love so much. Gonzalez embodies what hard work, persistence and love of the game mean, and it's a very special experience for Falcons fans to watch it go down right in front of us.
Clinching a Playoff Berth and Looking to the Future
This team has something special and there is no denying it. The Falcons had an incredible regular season. As we look forward into the playoff picture, I know that they will fight with everything they have to achieve the ultimate dream. We have much to be proud of, and can stand by our team through thick and thin. We're witnessing something incredible, Atlanta. Let's cheer harder, support our team and RISE UP into 2011.
What do YOU think? What are you favorite plays of the regular season? What are you looking forward to most for the Falcons' future? Let me know. You can always catch me on Twitter @AFC_Sara or on Facebook.
Best wishes to you and your families as we ring in 2011, and remember: Go Falcons!!