Posted: Monday, December 30th 2013 at 6:21pm
Best, worst of Falcons' 4-12 season
By The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Best Game: They'd been eliminated from playoff contention previous week vs. New Orleans, but the Falcons showed some heart with Dec. 1 overtime victory over Bills in Toronto.
Worst Game: One week after giving up 490 yards in blowout home loss to Seattle, Atlanta trailed 38-6 late in the third quarter at Tampa Bay. The one-win Buccaneers finished with 410 yards, including a career-best 163 rushing by little-known Bobby Rainey.
Best Play: Julio Jones beat Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins in man-to-man coverage to break free down the middle for an 81-yard touchdown, the longest catch of his career, in a Week 2 win.
Worst Play: Center Joe Hawley, thinking quarterback Matt Ryan is in backfield, errantly snapped the ball for 16-yard loss on final drive of a one-point home loss to Carolina in season finale.
Biggest Surprise: Undrafted rookie free agent linebackers Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu emerged as defensive leaders with Sean Weatherspoon unable to stay healthy and Stephen Nicholas and Akeem Dent unable to keep their jobs.
Biggest Disappointment: Jones had season-ending foot surgery after a Week 5 home loss to the struggling New York Jets. Jones led the NFL in catches and ranked second in yards receiving at the time of his injury.
What's Next: Better protection after Ryan was sacked career-high 44 times, trying to fill void left by retirement of 13-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez, Jones' foot rehab, Weatherspoon's questionable durability, improving pass rush that ranked second-worst in sacks and second-worst in yards per catch.
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