5) “Julio Being Julio” – In another stellar season, Julio Jones had one truly remarkable game. Against the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers, the Falcons star wideout had a game for the ages. Jones snagged a stunning 300 receiving yards in one day’s work. The capper came late. Carolina trailed all day, but finally caught traction late in the game. With Cam Newton on the bench, backup QB Derek Anderson led a rally. Anderson’s touchdown to Greg Olsen had cut the Falcons lead to just one score with four minutes to go. Now, if Carolina could get just one stop. One stop? They got… one play. One the next snap from scrimmage Jones blew past the entire defense, snared a long ball from Matt Ryan an galloped 75 yards to a score to help seal a critical early season statement win.
4) “The Big Kahuna” – Vic Beasley’s breakout season had an eye-popping highlight play. Beasley was torturing Rams rookie QB Jared Goff during a blowout win in Los Angeles when he hit a defensive ends version of a grand slam. Beasley blew in off Goff’s right side, reached out to record a sack, stripped the ball at the same time, recovered the fumble he created and then roared with that loose ball 21 yards into the Rams end zone. It was the play that marked his breakout year and one few defensive players ever get to make.
3) “Deion Jones- Hometown (Anti) Hero”.—Twice the rookie linebacker returned interceptions for touchdowns this season, but none was bigger than a drive-killing theft in his hometown. The New Orleans native played in his first pro game back in Louisiana, a Monday night game where the Saints honored fallen team heroes and, in Week 3, the Falcons faced an uphill start to the season in the division, giving Deion Jones a huge stage. New Orleans was down 13 but driving early in the fourth with the crowd at its ear-smashing loudest. Jones swiped a Drew Brees pass and raced 90-yards the other way to seal a win. It was “Welcome to the NFL” in as big a fashion as the former LSU star could have scripted.
2) “Coleman Breaks The Panthers’ Back” – Late in the third quarter in Charlotte in Week 16, Carolina had just scored to cut the Falcons lead to 10. The Panthers grabbed the momentum. Carolina’s defense hit Matt Ryan with a sack and a penalty backed the Falcons up to third and 21. Ryan checked down to Coleman out of the backfield and he flew down the sideline to pick up the first down. It was the next snap that did it. An innocent off tackle stretch play and Coleman put his foot into the turf, cut hard and blew by the Panthers defense 55 yards to pay dirt. That touchdown killed any comeback by Carolina and vaulted the Falcons into true control of their own destiny.
1) “Sanu For 6!” – The Falcons had hit a rocky patch. Back-to-back losses and the threat of letting a sterling start to the season go up in smoke loomed. A tough loss in Seattle and home loss to lowly San Diego dropped the club to 4-3. Enter Green Bay. Behind the arm of star QB Aaron Rodgers, the Packers threatened to dump Atlanta back to .500 when Rodgers gave his club the lead with under four minutes to go. The Falcons took the kick and marched into Green Bay’s red zone. A field goal was pointless; the Falcons needed seven to win. With barely 30 seconds to go Matt Ryan fired a bullet pass toward the goal post in the back of the end zone where Sanu snagged it for six. The play capped a come-from-behind, game-winning drive against the future NFC North champions and became a signature moment in Sanu’s career.