The 2010Atlanta Falcons season was the 45th season for the team in the National Football League. In 2009, the team posted consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history, with a 9–7 record, but did not make the playoffs. The Falcons have improved on their 2009 record, won their first NFC South title since 2004, a bye in the first round of the playoffs, and the top seed in the NFC. In the playoffs, the Falcons fell to the eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round 21-48.
After finishing the season 9–7 and out of the playoffs, the Falcons will pick 19th in the draft. The Falcons traded their second round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs after trading for tight end Tony Gonzalez, and their seventh round pick to the St. Louis Rams for cornerback Tye Hill.
The Falcons began their season at Heinz Field for an interconference duel against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Atlanta trailed early in the first quarter as Steelers kicker Jeff Reed nailed a 52-yard field goal. The Falcons would answer in the second quarter as kicker Matt Bryant made a 49-yard field goal.
Atlanta would take the lead in the third quarter as Bryant got a 36-yard field goal, but Pittsburgh would respond with Reed's 34-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers would get the lead again on Reed's 34-yard field goal, yet the Falcons would strike back with Bryant's 23-yard field goal. However, Pittsburgh delivered the final strike in overtime as running back Rashard Mendenhall got the game-winning 50-yard touchdown run.
Hoping to rebound from their loss to the Steelers the Falcons played at home an NFC duel against the Arizona Cardinals. In the first quarter Atlanta took the early lead as QB Matt Ryan completed a 7-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White, followed in the second quarter by kicker Matt Bryant hitting a 24-yard field goal. Arizona would reply with RB Tim Hightower getting an 80-yard TD run, but Atlanta increased their lead when Ryan threw a 19-yard TD pass to FB Jason Snelling, followed by Snelling getting a 1-yard TD run. In the third quarter the Falcons continued to dominate the game when Ryan completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to WR Brian Finneran, followed by Bryan nailing a 35-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter Atlanta scored once again with FB Jason Snelling getting a 7-yard TD run.
Coming off their win over the Cardinals the Falcons traveled to Louisiana Superdome for an NFC South rivalry match against the New Orleans Saints.
The Falcons trailed early when QB Drew Brees made a 2-yard TD pass to TE Jeremy Shockey. The Falcons replied with QB Matt Ryan making a 13-yard TD pass to TE Tony Gonzalez. The Saints re-took the lead with Brees finding WR Lance Moore on an 80-yard TD pass. But the Falcons replied in the second quarter with RB Michael Turner making a 1-yard TD run. The Falcons took the lead when kicker Matt Bryant made a 23-yard field goal. But they fell behind with Brees finding Moore again on a 16-yard TD pass. The Falcons would score when Ryan made a 22-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White. The Saints would tie the game with kicker Garrett Hartley making a 32-yard field goal. In overtime, the Saints drove down to the goal line but kicker Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal. The Falcons drove back down the other direction and Matt Bryant hit a 46-yard field goal to give the Falcons the win.
With the win, not only the Falcons improved to 2–1 but finally won their first game in New Orleans since 2002.
Hoping to increase their winning streak after a win against the Saints, the Falcons played inside their dome for an NFC duel against the San Francisco 49ers. In the first quarter the Falcons trailed early with QB Alex Smith making a 12-yard TD pass to TE Vernon Davis. Then the Falcons had more problems when Michael Koenen's punt was blocked and recovered in their own endzone by DB Taylor Mays, putting the 49ers up 14-0. Then the Falcons replied with QB Matt Ryan completing an 8-yard TD pass to WR Harry Douglas. Then the Falcons took the lead with three field goals from kicker Matt Bryant. He made a 37-yard field goal near the end of the 2nd quarter and a 31-yard field goad in the 3rd. Under two minutes to play with the Falcons trailing 14-13, Ryan threw an interception to the 49ers' Nate Clements who appears to be headed to the end zone and clinching the win. However wide receiver Roddy White chases him down and strips the football which was recovered by Atlanta's Harvey Dahl. Ryan engineers a drive in the other direction and Bryant kicks a 43-yard field goal with two seconds left giving the Falcons another win.
Coming off their win over the 49ers the Falcons flew to Cleveland Browns Stadium for an Interconference duel against the Cleveland Browns. In the 2nd quarter the Falcons took the early lead as kicker Matt Bryant nailed a 24-yard field goal. The Browns replied and took the lead with QB Seneca Wallace's 19 yard TD pass to RB Peyton Hillis. The Falcons tried to cut the lead when Bryant made a 30-yard field goal, but was expanded again in the 3rd quarter with kicker Phil Dawson making a 19-yard field goal. After that, the Falcons scored when QB Matt Ryan got a 45-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White, followed in the 4th quarter by DE Kroy Biermann returning an interception and running 41 yards to the endzone for a touchdown.
Hoping to increase their winning streak the Falcons flew to Lincoln Financial Field for an NFC duel against the Philadelphia Eagles. In the first quarter the Falcons trailed early as WR DeSean Jackson got a 31-yard TD run. Also QB Kevin Kolb connected to him on a 34-yard TD pass. The Falcons continued to struggle when Kolb found WR Jeremy Maclin on an 8-yard TD pass. The Falcons replied with QB Matt Ryan making a 1-yard TD pass to TE Tony Gonzalez. This was followed in the third quarter by kicker Matt Bryant hitting a 26-yard field goal. However the Falcons fell further behind when Kolb found Maclin again on an 83-yard TD pass. The Falcons replied with Ryan making a 13-yard TD pass to Gonzalez. The Eagles pulled away with kicker David Akers making a 30-yard field goal.
Hoping to rebound from their loss to the Eagles the Falcons played inside their dome for an inter-conference duel against the Bengals. In the first quarter the Falcons took the lead as QB Matt Ryan made a 3-yard TD pass to WR Brian Finneran. But the Bengals replied with kicker Mike Nugent making a 20-yard field goal. The Falcons dominated the second quarter with kicker Matt Bryant hitting a 45-yard field goal. Then Ryan found WR Roddy White on a 43-yard TD pass, followed by RB Michael Turner getting a 2-yard TD run. The Bengals caught up in the third quarter with Nugent nailing a 33-yard field goal, followed by QB Carson Palmer completing a 19-yard TD pass to WR Terrell Owens. Then Palmer found WR Jordan Shipley on a 64-yard TD pass. (With a failed 2-point conversion) Then DB Adam Jones returned a fumble 59 yards to the endzone for a touchdown (With a failed two-point conversion). The Falcons pulled away in the fourth quarter with Ryan making an 11-yard TD pass to White. (With the 2-point conversion successful as Ryan passed to White) This was followed by Turner getting a 3-yard TD run. The Falcons would concede only one touchdown after that as Palmer found WR Chad Ochocinco on an 8-yard TD pass.
With the win, Atlanta went into its bye week at 5–2.
Coming off their bye week the Falcons returned inside their dome for an NFC South rivalry match against the Buccaneers. The Falcons took the lead as RB Michael Turner got a 2 and a 10-yard TD run. The Buccaneers replied with QB Josh Freeman completing a 14-yard TD pass to WR Arrelious Benn. The Falcons pulled ahead after kicker Matt Bryant got a 31-yard field goal, but the Buccaneers responded after Freeman found WR Mike Williams on a 58-yard TD pass. The Falcons continued to score in the third quarter after QB Matt Ryan threw a 5-yard TD pass to TE Michael Palmer, followed by Bryant hitting a 41-yard field goal. The Buccaneers responded after Micheal Spurlock returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.
Coming off their divisional win over the Buccaneers, the Falcons stayed at home, donned their throwback uniforms, and played their Week 10 interconference duel with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta delivered the opening punch in the second quarter as quarterback Matt Ryan finding running back Jason Snelling on a 28-yard touchdown run, followed by a 28-yard field goal from kicker Matt Bryant.
The Falcons added onto their lead in the third quarter as Bryant booted a 51-yard field goal. The Ravens would answer with quarterback Joe Flacco completing a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Atlanta struck back in the fourth quarter as Ryan found wide receiver Roddy White on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Baltimore took the lead as Flacco completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Derrick Mason, followed by a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Todd Heap, yet the Falcons regained the lead as Ryan connected with White again on a 33-yard touchdown pass (with a failed two-point conversion) with 20 seconds left in the game.
With the win, the Falcons improved to 7–2.
During halftime, Deion Sanders was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor.
Hoping to increase their winning streak the Falcons flew to Edward Jones Dome for an NFC duel with the Rams.
In the first quarter the Falcons trailed early after QB Sam Bradford made a 25-yard TD pass to TE Michael Hoomanawanui. The Falcons replied with kicker Matt Bryant hitting a 42-yard field goal. The Falcons struggled further when kicker Josh Brown hit a 53-yard field goal; but they rallied to take the lead after QB Matt Ryan completed a 12-yard TD pass to WR Brian Finneran, followed by Bryant nailing a 29 and a 24-yard field goal. The lead was narrowed when Bradford threw a 13-yard TD pass to WR Brandon Gibson, but they increased their lead as Ryan threw a 2-yard TD pass to TE Justin Peelle. This was followed in the fourth quarter by Bryant nailing a 21-yard field goal, and with RB Michael Turner getting a 39-yard TD run.
The Falcons' eleventh game was an NFC duel with the Packers inside their dome. In the first quarter the Falcons took the lead as kicker Matt Bryant nailed a 38-yard field goal. The Packers replied as kicker Mason Crosby hit a 22-yard field goal. The Falcons made the only score of the second quarter with QB Matt Ryan making a 4-yard TD pass to TE Tony Gonzalez; but the Packers responded in the third quarter when QB Aaron Rodgers scrambled 1 yard for a touchdown. The Falcons got the lead back as RB Michael Turner got a 1-yard TD run, but the Packers replied with Rodgers' 10-yard TD pass to WR Jordy Nelson. The Falcons scored with Bryant getting a 47-yard field goal, and after that, they held on for the win.
Hoping to increase their winning streak the Falcons flew to Raymond James Stadium for an NFC South rivalry match against the Buccaneers. The Falcons took the early lead as RB Michael Turner got a 5-yard TD run. But the Buccaneers replied with RB LeGarrette Blount getting a 6-yard TD run. The Falcons scored again with QB Matt Ryan getting a 17-yard TD pass to FB Ovie Mughelli, but Tampa Bay replied with QB Josh Freeman getting a 1-yard TD pass to WR Mike Williams. The Falcons trailed for the first time in the game with kicker Connor Barth nailing a 33-yard field goal, and with Earnest Graham making a 2-yard TD pass to TE John Gilmore. The Falcons responded with Eric Weems returning a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, and getting the lead back with Ryan getting a 9-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins.
The Falcons' thirteenth game was an NFC South rivalry match against the Panthers. The Falcons commanded the first half as QB Matt Ryan completed a 4-yard TD pass to TE Tony Gonzalez, followed by RB Michael Turner getting a 1-yard TD run, and then with kicker Matt Bryant nailing a 39-yard field goal. The Panthers scored in the third quarter with RB Mike Goodson getting a 13-yard TD run, but the Falcons replied as Turner got a 3-yard TD run. The lead was narrowed as kicker John Kasay made a 36-yard field goal, but Atlanta pulled away as Turner got a 4-yard TD run.
Looking to secure a playoff berth, the Falcons traveled to Seattle in their last regular-season road game to take on the Seahawks. Seattle took an early lead with a 1-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch. Atlanta would later respond early in the second quarter with a Matt Ryan 3-yard TD pass to Jason Snelling, with Matt Bryant later adding a 27-yard field goal to take the lead. Seattle tied the game with a 38-yard field goal from Olindo Mare; however, the Falcons took the lead again with a Ryan 24-yard TD pass to Michael Jenkins to close the first half. On the Seahawks' first offensive possession of the second half, Matt Hasselback fumbled the football in the end-zone with defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux recovering for a Falcons' touchdown. Atlanta would later add to their lead with a 25-yard Bryant field goal as well as a Ryan 24-yard TD pass to Roddy White. Seattle's only score of the second half came from backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst with a 1-yard TD rush followed by a successful 2-point conversion with a Whitehurst pass to Ben Obomanu.
With the win, Atlanta improved to 12-2. Also, the Falcons secured a playoff berth early in the game due to Philadelphia's victory over the New York Giants.
Looking to win their division and capture the top seed in the NFC playoffs, the Falcons hosted the Saints in a Monday Night rematch of their Week 3 contest. New Orleans would score first with Garrett Hartley kicking a FG from 52 yards late in the first quarter. RB Pierre Thomas would add to the Saints' lead with a 2-yard TD run; however, Atlanta would respond with a Matt Ryan 7-yard TD pass to Roddy White to cut the lead to three. After a scoreless third quarter, the Falcons took the lead with Chauncey Davis returning an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. New Orleans reclaimed the lead late in the 4th with a Drew Brees 6-yard TD pass to Jimmy Graham. Atlanta attempted to comeback; however, New Orleans held on for the win.
With the loss, Atlanta falls to 12–3, snapping their 8-game winning streak.
The Falcons' sixteenth game was a division rivalry rematch against the Panthers inside their dome. The Falcons commanded the first half as QB Matt Ryan got a 6-yard TD pass to TE Tony Gonzalez. This was followed by a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown by Eric Weems; then with Ryan completing a 14-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White. The Panthers tried to cut the lead with kicker John Kasay getting a 23-yard field goal, but the Falcons continued to score as kicker Matt Bryant made a 47-yard field goal, followed by RB Michael Turner getting a 3-yard TD run. The lead was narrowed as QB Jimmy Clausen connected to TE Jeff King on a 2-yard TD pass, but the Falcons held on for the easy win, finishing their regular season on a 13-3 record.
Entering the postseason as the NFC's #1 seed, the Falcons began their playoff run at home against the #6 Green Bay Packers, in a rematch of their Week 12 match-up. Atlanta delivered the game's opening strike in the first quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run from running back Michael Turner. The Packers answered in the second quarter as quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordy Nelson, yet the Falcons immediately struck back as wide receiver Eric Weems returned the ensuing kickoff for a franchise postseason best 102 yards for a touchdown. Green Bay came right back with fullback John Kuhn getting a 1-yard touchdown run, Rodgers completing a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver James Jones, and cornerback Tramon Williams returning an interception 70 yards for a touchdown.
The Packers added onto their lead in the third quarter as Rodgers got a 7-yard touchdown run, followed by his 7-yard touchdown pass to Kuhn. Atlanta tried to rally in the fourth quarter as quarterback Matt Ryan found wide receiver Roddy White on a 6-yard touchdown pass, yet Green Bay closed out their dominating night with Crosby getting a 43-yard field goal.
With the loss, the Falcons' season came to a disappointing end with an overall record of 13-4.
The 27 point loss was the worst loss by a top seed in Divisional Playoff game history. It was the 2nd worst defeat by a top seed before a Super Bowl with the worst being a 28-0 loss by the Los Angeles Rams to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1978 Season.