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THIRD QUARTER HICK'RY STICK AWARD POLL!


  

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  1. 1. Who wins our third quarterly HSA?



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At the close of the previous two quarters, there was always that one game I had to gently brush aside, turn a blind eye to in the write-up. Not this time, Falcons brethren. Not this time. From stunning the slick talking heads on Thursday Night Football to securing a divisional battle on a field that looked like it had undergone siege by a parade of gnomes, the 3rd quarter registered an eye-popping 4-0 record and catapulted all but our Thursday opponent into that shark-infested abyss of Wildcard Roulette that Supes rendered so lovingly in his latest toon. I am FEELIN' it, friends: the atmosphere after sweeping them Bucs last night at Ray J was nothing short of electric, with Falcons fans gathered in the concourse hollering and dancing the Dirty Bird and high-fiving a little Ryan fan on his Dad's shoulders and chanting D.A.L.L.A.S. One game at a time, yes ... but I'm feelin' it!

And now, to the main event. Before we enter our final stretch to ensconce ourselves in the cozy confines of the Georgia Dome for the playoffs, we have that grand Hick'ry Stick to award. The mini-polls suggest that Roddy may have to – at least temporarily – say farewell this quarter, so I hope that Jay Adams is assembling some sort of Georgia cavalry. I just don't see the hand-off happening peacefully. Then again, need the hand-off happen at all? Up to you, Falcons family! I present to you the 3rd quarter candidates!

Matt Ryan: Down a point with under a minute to go on a Thursday evening, national audience gazing at your team with bated breath? Field goal range required to stave off overtime against a Pack? 3rd and 20, when a failure to convert could disastrously swing momentum back to some surging Buccaroos? The IceMan Cometh. Nothing epitomizes Ryan's play over the third quarter better than the words he himself spoke on the sideline as the Packers scored on 4th and goal: sipping Gatorade, truly looking downright bored with the proceedings, he announced, "Doesn't matter." And he's right ... whatever gutsy plays, whatever skills were put on display by an opponent in this quarter ... if they left #2 with a few precious ticks on the clock, it just didn't matter. A few uncharacteristic snafus in Tampa aside, many attributable to that landmine of a field, we've got a QB in the MVP talk, folks: a surgeon and mastermind of the game maturing exponentially in his 3rd year.

Brent Grimes: Anyone remember that video clip someone posted on here as a joke a year or two back, tagging it as Brent Grimes? The one of a feline springing an unprecedented number of feet into the air to snare a bat? It was all I could think of yesterday in Tampa. Overturned or not, the first interception was that feat of jackrabbit genius that we have all come to expect as par for the course from Mighty Mite (or Sugar Nips, if you prefer). And the second INT, if the next quarter goes as planned, may very well have been a play that secured us that shimmering package known as home-field advantage. Finally, consider that the INT's are only the icing on the cake. A cake smeared with the remains of those players Grimes is wrapping up and of those balls he is batting down with sniper-like precision. Take your "a couple more inches" elsewhere. Grimes doesn't need 'em.

Michael Turner: The Sunday scampers throughout the third quarter ensured another 1,000+ yard season. Turner seemed to take being stymied by the Ravens as a personal affront and has been sniffing out the endzone like a bloodhound ever since. Much to the chagrin of the little lambs in St. Louis, he bowled the game right out of reach after shaking the initial would-be tackles ("would-be" describes MOST tackles attempted against Turner, incidentally). Against the beefy Pack, he made it look laughably easy, waltzing in on 4th and 1. Against the pirates, he found his way in for our first vital score. And, of course, even when the runs do not end with 6, they end with a huddled group of defenders on the sideline, literally gasping for oxygen for their grounded, pounded selves.

Eric Weems: He's been steady, reliable, "go-to" all season, someone we could trust to secure solid starting field position for our O. In the Packers and Bucs games, though, "steady," "reliable" and "solid" morphed into "dazzling" and "**** YEAH." When the Bucs went up by 10, I very genuinely feared that my renowned jinxing ability was seeping into the stadium and overpowering the squad. Then ... then I discovered that Weems is immune. Towing the sideline like a trapeze artist and then catapulting down the field as though just discharged from that obnoxious cannon in the Ray J endzone, he sprinted into Falcons records books and into the heart of this Falcon fan who happily surrendered the last of her bronchitis-plagued voice to propel him on. And, lest we forget, it likely would have been the second such feat in as many weeks, if only a certain piece of Cheese had not treated our #14 like his own personal Bobble-head.

Curtis Lofton: When a player is consistently remarkable throughout an entire quarter, I have to look for "the play" for the write-up. For Lofton, look no further than the moment when Aaron Rodgers had only to jostle a foot or two into the endzone for the key go-ahead score. The Packers generally hold onto the football as though SuperGlue is involved, but not when the Police entered the picture. With one timely thwack, the ball was popping into the air in cartoon-like fashion, and it was the Falcons who would notch the lead on the ensuing drive. When the camera panned to the Pack's sideline after Lofton's brilliant play, all that the coach could mouth was, "Wow." Wow indeed.

Roddy White: Even if NFL rules prohibit Roddy storming the field, pumping the HSA proudly above his head, it is clearly the mindset with which he enters every single game. Although this quarter did not always see the flashy stats of, say, that out-of-this-world Bengals match-up, White continues to solidify his position as (yep, we'll all keep sayin' it!) the premiere wide receiver in the NFL. Countless plays come to mind, but I'll focus on two. When we needed a field goal to trump the Ravens, why not take a Roddy TD instead? (And, for the record, he did so NOT with a push-off, but with an out-muscling that sent that pitiful crow crying to the ref 'cuz he'd been flat-out owned.) Needing 3rd and 20 (!) against the Bucs, who would we expect other than White to run the picture-perfect route and just.manage.to.stay.inbounds.by.inches? And the beauty is, he's no secret weapon. CB's KNOW he's prowling ... they just don't know what to DO about it.

Jonathan Babineaux: It's as though someone inserts a microchip in opposing players and then sends out Babs to showcase his finely honed tracking skills. Once again, I can point to countless plays over the third quarter, countless moments in which he resided in the opposing team's backfield, but what is standing out in my mind is the absolutely crucial sack of Joshie in the 4th quarter. Smitty always tells us that 4th quarter sacks are the most critical of all, and the elation I felt at seeing Babs take Josh down – just knowing that our offense would do something with that golden opportunity from their DT – says volumes.

John Abraham: See above. Kidding, of course, but Abe and Babs share the same tracking skills. After 2009, "rebound" is not the correct word for Abraham in this 2010 season. He has SURGED back onto the scene and reminded us all why we like nothing better than seeing him on the hunt. I promised everyone in my last write-up that we'd get a sack of Joe Cool and his unibrow, and Abe dealt handily with both. It is a testament to his play over the third quarter that it was doomsday on AFMB when he was declared ineligible for the Rams. We know how badly we need our Sack-Master out on the field.

Matt Bryant: Matty 1.0 puts 'em on ice; Matty 2.0 freezes 'em out for good. Perhaps my favorite moment with Bryant is that millisecond in which the opposing coach believes a time-out is going to somehow magically unsettle this man's steely nerves. #3 looks over, shakes his head as though to say, "You kiddin' me with this, pal?" and then simply steps up and drives yet another one squarely between the uprights. He served the Packers the "whine" to go with their cheese on the long, dejected flight home, and I have every confidence that he was primed to put an arrow through Raven hearts also if called upon.

William Moore: Stud. Do I really need to keep writing? He's a stud. He hits and lays people out like a prize-fighter (I could HEAR the shots he was giving in Ray J; I'm sure the players receiving them are on the business end of some morphine this morning), and as if that weren't enough, he is an incredibly savvy player. Smitty admitted that the defense had not prepared for the type of play the Rams threw at us near their goal line. No matter. Moore read it like a first-grade textbook, and it looked as though Bradford had had no other intention but to settle the ball (and, essentially, the victory) in Moore's outstretched hands. Quite a homecoming for a player who we proudly house in the ATL.

Tyson Clabo: Perhaps the greatest compliment you can pay an offensive lineman is to gesture to the jersey of the quarterback. If it were up to Clabo, I'm not sure Ryan would have any cause to send that #2 to the washing machines after GameDay. In the third quarter, Tyson has distinguished himself as the first offensive lineman to be considered for our award, and nowhere did he do so more convincingly than against the vaunted line of the Packers. The pundits told us to expect to see Matt hit the dirt time and again. The pundits told us that Clay Matthews, he of the flowing locks, would be slamming our QB. The pundits got their wires spliced yet again, neglected to account for Tyson at the table.

Cast your vote, and gear up for the final quarter. When next I write, I fully expect to be celebrating a MNF victory against our arch-nemesis and HFA to pave the way to Dallas!

Edited by BCEagleATLFalcon
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I'm going with Eric weems and its not even close this guy has been setting us up nicely on a consistent basis doing not just returning kicks but covering them as well...The green bay game he put us right where we needed to be...The tampa bay game I mean im still on cloud 9 about that TD return...Eric you've earned this one

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i was considering voting on almost 5 different people

but how could you go with anyone but matt ryan? How many 4th quarter comebacks has he led us to this year? 6 already? He's making us take it for granted, which is a good thing. But he deserves the award.

Others I almost voted for in order:

bryant

clabo

grimes

weems

Awesome to see so many players having awesome seasons.

PS awesome write up. I like the style you wrote it fits the HSA perfectly

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Grimes without question is the one deserving of this prestigious award. The dude put the game away and played outstanding all game long.

BCEagle, I know Ryan is your main squeeze but no how, no way does he deserve this award. He threw 2 picks and could have easily thrown 3-4 INTs. He also forgot our running game after we went up 14-7 with Turner dominating the pathetic Bucs.

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Grimes without question is the one deserving of this prestigious award. The dude put the game away and played outstanding all game long.

BCEagle, I know Ryan is your main squeeze but no how, no way does he deserve this award. He threw 2 picks and could have easily thrown 3-4 INTs. He also forgot our running game after we went up 14-7 with Turner dominating the pathetic Bucs.

I would agree with you if this award were for one game. Since it's for the last 4, and since he still pulled it out in the end against the Bucs, he very much deserves to be in the running. Has nothing to do with how I feel about certain players; I write up the people who had the most votes in the previous mini-polls.

Edited by BCEagleATLFalcon
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Grimes without question is the one deserving of this prestigious award. The dude put the game away and played outstanding all game long.

BCEagle, I know Ryan is your main squeeze but no how, no way does he deserve this award. He threw 2 picks and could have easily thrown 3-4 INTs. He also forgot our running game after we went up 14-7 with Turner dominating the pathetic Bucs.

As BCEagle mentioned, this is for the last FOUR games, not just the Bucs game. Three of the other games were enough to earn him the NFC player of the month for November, as well as starting to get him mentioned by a lot of people for MVP. I think that is reason enough.

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For the first time this season I really wish we could give it to multiple guys. I really do. The Falcons after all do not focus on individuality and individual accomplishment and over the last four weeks so many players have done so much.

That said, ultimately, I have to give my vote to the comeback kid, the man who has made so many of us keep the faith in the fourth quarter when in the past we would have been shuffling off early to go home, or find something else to do around the house. How can this award NOT go to Mr. Cool, Mr. Calm, Mr. Unflappable: Matty "Ice" Ryan?

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