Atlanta as a franchise in it's history has been in the lower tier of success in the NFL. However, the Falcons have still produced some great and memorable moments during their tenure. Billy "White Shoes" Johnson catching a Hail Mary from Steve Bartowski in '83 to upset the 49ers, or Morten Andersen drilling a 38 yard field goal in the NFC Championship Game to upset one of the best offenses and a gigantic favorite in the 15-1 Vikings. There is no denying that this franchise has offered several special and enduring moments to it's fanbase.
My personal favorite however is more recent, well in retrospect it's not really that recent. By the time next year starts it will be five years old. Either way this confirmed to me something I had believed for a long time. Matt Ryan is a special player and if Atlanta were to get to the Super Bowl any time soon he would be the one leading us.
The game I'm talking about is the 2008 match-up between the Chicago Bears and the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. The game had been relatively back and forth most of the time, but with 11 seconds left in the game the Bears took a 1 point lead after Kyle Orton delivered a TD pass to Rasheed Davis, who had beaten Chris Houston. On the Ensuing kickoff the Falcons took it back to their own forty-four and Matt Ryan took over with six seconds remaining. What happened on the next play was one of the most inspiring moments I've ever seen from the Falcons.
Matt Ryan and Atlanta lined up in a two back shotgun formation. With Michael Jenkins split out to his left and, Roddy White and Harry Douglas were to his right. Matt signaled for the snap took a five step drop, and with Tommie Harris and another rusher off the edge within a foot of him Matt Ryan delivered a strike to Michael Jenkins who had ran a post towards the sideline. Ryan with two men in his face put the ball in the perfect spot, Jenkins secured it and was knocked out of bounds. Panning up to the scoreboard the camera showed the time on the clock. 0:01. One second remained on the clock and Ryan had delivered a perfect pass to Michael Jenkins who was knocked out at the 30. Trailing 19-20 Atlanta would have one last shot to win the game.
Jason Elam and Michael Koenen trotted out along with the rest of the field goal unit, with the ball at the left hash of the 30 yard line, Elam would be attempting a 47 yard field goal for a shot to win the game. The ball was snapped, Koenen grasped it with both hands and immediately placed it upright on the ground, Elam was moving in and he struck the ball, it started out at the middle but slowly started moving towards the right, as the ball approached the uprights it snuck inside the right upright. The two officials stuck both arms in the air; signaling that the field goal was indeed good. Their was no time left on the clock, and the score was final; Atlanta-22, Chicago-19.
The moment the pass was completed I knew we had something special on our hands with our rookie quarterback. Against all odds he had put his team in a position to win with one play, and win they did. As the season progressed I looked back at this moment and to me it looked like the force that propelled Atlanta and rookie quarterback Matt Ryan in to the post season. One year removed from an utter fiasco.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZodiacFalconFan
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