Julio Jones’ game-winning touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles is one of the best plays of his illustrious career, according to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Falcons were trailing 20-17 with just over two minutes to play when Jones reeled in a fourth-down screen pass and went 54 yards to the end zone, galloping away from the Eagles’ secondary for a notable score in both the context of the game and also his own career.
In the process of helping his team avoid an 0-2 start, the wide receiver – who signed a three-year contract extension prior to the new season – became Atlanta’s franchise leader in receiving yards, passing former team-mate Roddy White.
It was also a milestone moment for Ryan as he reached 300 touchdown passes in the NFL. He now sits in a tie with the great John Elway in 11th position on the all-time list.
“It’s up there. The timing of when it happened, what we needed,” Ryan replied in his post-game media conference when asked where Jones’ catch ranked in the wideout’s NFL career.
“He’s had a lot of great ones, that’s for sure. Especially for him to break a record that way, in such a critical situation and a clutch moment, was pretty cool.
“I’m proud of him – it’s been an honour to play with him as long as I have and let us hope there’s a lot more of that in store now he’s under contract for a long time.”
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 16, 2019
Ryan threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns but was also intercepted three times, with Atlanta relying on a fourth-down defensive stop to seal a 24-20 triumph in their home opener.
“That was probably the most all-out pressure in a game I’ve had in my entire career,” Ryan said of the Eagles’ defense.
“When you’re going against that, it’s going to be feast or famine. There is going to be some good stuff, but then some that doesn’t go our way.
“Turning the football over three times, it’s hard to win when you do that in this league. But you keep telling yourself that the score is where it is, and that we’re in a good position to get the job done.
“Forget what’s happened up until this point, concentrate on the play coming in and trust what you see on the other end to go out there and execute the best you can.”
On reaching 300 touchdown passes, Ryan added: “To get to that milestone is special, but my mindset is always about what is next – how many more can we get and how can we win games. More important than getting that number is getting the win.”