Call it lucky, call it a great play by two superstars, but whatever you call it, the 40-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones on fourth down in the third quarter was wildly entertaining.
In their first win of the season, the Falcons did a lot of things right. They intercepted three passes, gained 462 yards on offense and protected their lead in the fourth quarter. When everything is clicking the way it was on Sunday for Atlanta, it can result in some truly spectacular moments. The two biggest stars on Atlanta's roster provided the play of the game on a fourth-and-3 late in the third quarter.
This is the 10th season that Jones and Ryan have played together. The duo has the second-most completions between a quarterback and receiver in NFL history, and Ryan credits the chemistry they've developed over the years for that play unfolding the way that it did.
"You never know, so that was a great play by Julio," Ryan said. "Just his patience on the outside, kind of letting it develop. I think having played together for as long as we have, you kind of have a feel for what each other is going to do. It came at a clutch time. We needed a play and that was awesome."
Jones missed Atlanta's Week 5 matchup against the Carolina Panthers, and the Falcons' passing attack suffered as a result. In his return to action, healthy after dealing with a hamstring injury, both he and Ryan thrived against the Vikings. Ryan completed 30 of his 40 pass attempts for 371 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Jones caught eight of Ryan's passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
The Falcons have been searching for their first win of the season, and their top two players led the way to a victory. It was a memorable game, punctuated by a play that highlights not just the incredible talent of the individual players involved but the value of the connection they've developed over the years.
After leading Atlanta to its first win of the year, interim head coach Raheem Morris showed off his rye sense of humor with this take on the play:
"Matt Ryan is a scrambler," Morris said. "He's the guy. He's the new-age quarterback. He's no longer a pocket passer."
When the Falcons win in the fashion they did, and the players are making plays such as these, it puts everyone in a good mood.