Inside Julio Jones’ first landing — which was nearly taken away

2:12 PM ET

Vaughn McClure

ShutESPN Employees AuthorCoated Bears for seven seasons at Chicago Tribune
Additionally labored at Chicago Solar-Occasions, Fresno Bee
Honorable point out, Soccer Writers Affiliation of America for enterprise writing, 2002

Mike Wells

ShutESPN Employees Author Beforehand labored at Indianapolis Star, protecting the Indiana Pacers for 9 seasons
Additionally lined Vikings for St. Paul Pioneer Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Julio Jones added to his embellished résumé on Sunday evening, changing into the Atlanta Falcons’ all-time main receiver on a 54-yard landing catch that proved to be the distinction in opposition to the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was a memorable TD, to make sure — however not practically pretty much as good as the primary of his profession.

That occurred on Nov. 6, 2011 at Lucas Oil Stadium, the identical place the place the Falcons will face the Indianapolis Colts subsequent Sunday. Jones did not attain the tip zone in his first 5 NFL video games that 12 months, then missed two video games due to a hamstring harm earlier than breaking by way of Week 9 in opposition to Indy.

What does the league’s highest-paid receiver keep in mind about that landing: an acrobatic, 50-yard seize from quarterback Matt Ryan with three Colts defenders hovering?

“That was so way back,” Jones stated. “I do know they tried to take my first landing away from me.”

Right here’s how the play unfolded.

The setup

It was first-and-10 for the Falcons at midfield with three minutes to go within the first quarter. Ryan took a five-step drop out of shotgun with Jones aligned near the proper as the only receiver and getting a free launch.

Jones: “I had a put up. I used to be coming off the hamstring harm as a result of, early on in my profession, I did not know the best way to care for myself. So I saved blowing my hamstrings out. I used to be simply very excited to get again for that sport and have the ability to run, to indicate folks what I might do.”

Julio Jones caught his first landing at Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 6, 2011. Icon SMI

Ryan: “I keep in mind speaking by way of the week that we have been going to take a deep shot, regardless. If they’d single-safety protection, we have been going to throw it up. We felt like we had a bonus of ball abilities. So even when it wasn’t open, we felt like, regardless, [Julio] was going to go outplay them in that place.”

Falcons offensive coordinator (now tight ends coach) Mike Mularkey: “The personnel was 12 Jumbo, which put a lineman in [Joe Hawley] to assist cross shield as a result of it was a deep, long-developing throw. The formation was Doc-left-off, so each tackles had guys on the wings to assist shield them. So, the play was Doc-Left-Deep-71-Bang-Z-Delta to inform them to bang [chip block] earlier than they exit. … The 71 is seven-man safety.”

Falcons operating again Michael Turner: “We knew we needed to block these guys on the perimeters with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, two Corridor of Fame-type gamers on the staff, which is why we max-protected. Truthfully, I used to be trying round for somebody to dam however could not discover no person.”

Colts defensive finish Robert Mathis: “They game-planned it effectively the place they have been in a position to neutralize our cross rush. They made positive we did not get to their quarterback with double-teams and chip blocks. I feel we might have had just one sack in opposition to them, and I did not get a sack.”

Falcons large receiver Roddy White: “I assumed I used to be the primary learn on the play, however I feel Matt already predetermined he was throwing that ball to [Julio] anyway. The one good participant they’d again there within the secondary was Antoine Bethea. That they had an actual quick dude, [Jerraud] Powers, however everyone else was simply all proper.”

The throw and catch

Ryan heaved the ball from his personal 42; Jones caught it proper on the objective line and rolled in.

Ryan: “We had the single-safety look, and I mainly simply threw it so far as I might. And [Julio] made an unbelievable adjustment on the ball.”

Jones: “Matt gave me a possibility ball to make a play on it down the sphere. Simply stayed with it all through the entire play. The defensive guys form of gave up on it. I caught with it and accomplished the catch.”

“I noticed Julio had a step on [Kevin] Thomas,” Colts DB Jerraud Powers stated. “I figured Julio would come down with it.” AP Photograph/AJ Mast

Colts defensive again Jerraud Powers: “Kevin Thomas was guarding Julio, and I used to be making an attempt to assist from the bottom after I noticed he was operating the put up. On that play, it was Cowl Three, I am positive. I used to be studying Matt Ryan and tried to go assist, and as soon as he launched it and I noticed Julio had a step on Thomas, I figured Julio would come down with it.”

Mularkey: “[Ryan] simply took a shot with Julio. It was fairly effectively lined, however he threw it to a spot. Julio received to that spot and made an unbelievable catch. It was Matt’s learn to belief the throw, belief every thing that is been taught with the learn. And he let her go.”

Falcons colour analyst Dave Archer: “As a former quarterback, at any time when there is a center security, throwing a put up is form of a no-no. You simply do not do this. However this man [Jones] is a distinct chook — actually a distinct chook. If you’ve received a 6-Three, 220-pound receiver who runs four.Three that may make these form of grabs, it does not matter who’s down by way of the center.”

White: “That was most likely probably the greatest catches I’ve ever seen. Julio caught the ball in between three folks off the bottom. You understand how exhausting that’s to do?”


The catch initially was dominated incomplete as again decide Kirk Dornan thought the ball hit the bottom, however Falcons coach Mike Smith threw the problem flag. Referee Mike Carey reviewed it and overturned the decision.

Jones: “I knew it was a landing, all the best way.”

Ryan: “I keep in mind [Julio] calling out as a result of they did not initially rule it a landing. He was screaming out saying, ‘No, no, no. I caught that.'”

Julio Jones’ first TD catch was initially dominated incomplete. Icon SMI

Referee Mike Carey: “He received management of the ball. It by no means touched the bottom. Initially when he hits the bottom, the ball flops. It was very tough at first. Kirk Dornan is a superb again decide. The motion makes it looks as if the ball did, nevertheless it did not actually hit the bottom. He gained management.”

Turner: “Everyone at all times says they got here up with the catch, proper? We could not see the replay as a result of they do not present that form of stuff on the video board to assist the opposing staff. So, we simply waited and waited.”

Carey: “Sometimes, there are 9 to 40 digital camera angles — relying on if it is a prime-time sport. You wish to speak to the replay operator to get the particular angle. On this specific play, we have been two totally different angles to see if the ball hit the bottom. When you see the replay, it seems like I used to be standing there ready for TV to return again [from commercial]. That is a sign that it did not take notably lengthy to make the decision.”

The celebration

Falcons large receivers Jones, White, Harry Douglas and Eric Weems celebrated with a choreographed dance.

Jones: “We did this dance referred to as ‘beef it up’ on the time. The one factor I can keep in mind is after we began doing it, Smitty [coach Mike Smith] was like, ‘Get the f— off the sphere.'”

Julio Jones dances with teammates after his first landing. AP Photograph/Matt Slocum

Douglas: “We labored on the dance the week beforehand. After we used to play music at observe, all of us used to bounce collectively. I must say me and Weems have been one of the best dancers. I do not wish to say [Julio] was the worst. [Julio] and Rod have been extra the calm ones, the place me and Weems have been extra of the outgoing, rah-rah guys.”

Ryan: “These guys have been all doing it, however I wasn’t included within the dance.”

White: “Matt wasn’t included as a result of he is the worst dancer we have seen in our lifetime. He has two left toes, man. We name him ‘child giraffe’ as a result of he runs round and do not even know the place to go.”

The aftermath

Jones additionally had an 80-yard TD within the sport on a slant play. He caught three passes for 131 yards — his single-game excessive as a rookie — and two scores, letting the NFL know he had arrived.

Powers: “I went in opposition to Julio in faculty, so I knew what kind of participant he was going to change into. … Julio might be essentially the most full receiver within the sport: bodily, quick, fast, ‘I am one of the best’ mentality. He is the one man I noticed that might match up with Patrick Peterson and be simply as athletic, fast and quick.”

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Archer: “You form of had an concept that he was a freak anyway. If you see a man do one thing like that, as a quarterback you say, ‘Wow, I can throw this man the ball anyplace now.’ You may discuss your confidence as a quarterback ramping up exponentially if you see a man make that play.”

Ryan: “Yeah, Arch is 100 p.c proper. That is one of many issues we talked about as a staff, was saying that this man is totally different. He is a man that you just simply have to offer possibilities throughout a sport for him to go make a play on the ball. That was the start of my confidence degree with him simply going by way of the roof.”

Jones: “Was that me arriving? Hmm, nah. It was only a glimpse of what I might do and be within the league so far as taking small issues to the home and making huge performs down the sphere.”

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