Despite a very disappointing 4-12 season, where the Atlanta Falcons had hoped for a Super Bowl season, there were a few bright spots for this team. They were competitive all season long, and did play in some very exciting games.
Here are the five best moments from the 2013 season:
5. Falcons knock off Rams for first win of the season
In their home opener during week 2, the Falcons looked to avoid an 0-2 start after dropping a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan had an incredible performance, completing 33 passes for 357 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, as the Falcons defeated St. Louis 31-24 in a shootout, where the two teams combined for 814 yards of offense and 55 points.
4. Falcons nearly come back against Patriots
Okay, so the Falcons lost this game 30-23 in primetime, but it was worthy of acknowledging the comeback attempt. With 6:18 to go in the fourth quarter, the Falcons found themselves trailing 30-13 and appeared to be on the verge of a brutal 1-3 start. Not so fast. Ryan led the team downfield and found Tony Gonzalez in the end zone to make the score 30-20 with 4:22 left. Atlanta was successful with an onside kick recovery and added a field goal to trail with 2:55 left.
The Falcons defense then forced a Tom Brady fumbled snap on 4th-and-inches in Atlanta territory, giving the Falcons one more chance on a miraculous comeback. Ryan found Julio Jones down to the Patriots 13′ with for 49 yards. The Patriots would make a clutch defensive stand, forcing a turnover on downs
and winning the game, but not before the Falcons showed a quality of determination and persevering against one of the league’s elite teams.
3. Harry Douglas’ emergence
Harry Douglas had many productive games with the Falcons. With Julio Jones and Roddy White battling injuries all season, Douglas stepped up as a key player in Atlanta’s passing game. He had 85 receptions for 1,067 yards and two touchdowns, becoming a deep-threat while the Falcons’ top players were hurt.
He’s given the Falcons hope for next season to replace the production of Tony Gonzalez, and will create problems for defenses with White and Jones to line up with him.
2. Falcons defense makes big plays in overtime win against Bills
The Falcons defense was awful all season, giving up too many yards, too many points and not making any big plays. But the defense finally came through in week 13 against Buffalo.
With the game tied 31-31 in the fourth quarter, the Bills looked to set up a game-winning Dan Carpenter field goal. At the Atlanta 44-yard line, Stevie Johnson had a catch at the Falcons 30, but William Moore recovered a fumble to send the game into overtime.
The defense made another big play in OT. Scott Chandler caught a pass at the Buffalo 45, but Moore forced another fumble that was recovered by Robert Alford at Atlanta’s 40, giving Matt Ryan a short field to lead his his team downfield to set up a short Matt Bryant field goal.
The Falcons won a very entertaining and close game, thanks in large part to big plays by the defense, something it lacked all season.
1. Falcons defeat Redskins in week 15 thriller
Matt Ryan struggled in this game. He threw for only 189 passing yards and one touchdown, to go along with an interception and three sacks. But his team did enough to win what was arguably its most exciting game of the season.
The key to this win was seven turnovers by the Falcons defense. But its biggest play came with 18 seconds left. Kirk Cousins found Santana Moss in the end zone to make the score 27-26 Atlanta, but the Redskins attempted the two-point conversion to go for the win. The pass fell incomplete, and the Falcons recorded its fourth and final win of 2013.
Why was this moment No. 1? Because Atlanta’s defense finally stepped up for Matt Ryan, and pulled off a thrilling finish and gave this team some hope on defense for next season after shutting down one of the more electric offenses in the league.