NFL Nation: Gerald Riggs
What it means: The Falcons are 10-6 and in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. The Falcons are in as the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. They’ll play on the road against the winner of Sunday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. The Buccaneers ended their season in dismal fashion. After starting off 4-2, they lost their final 10 games and weren’t even competitive in most of those.
Momentum found: The Falcons bounced back nicely after a bad Monday night loss to the New Orleans Saints. Yeah, they were playing the Bucs, who might have become the worst team in the NFL, but the victory should create a positive vibe for the Falcons as they head into the playoffs.
Record Turner: Michael Turner broke Gerald Riggs’ team record for career rushing touchdowns with two in the first half. Turner now has 50 rushing touchdowns since joining the Falcons in 2008. Riggs set his record over the course of seven seasons. Turner also tied Riggs’ team record with his 25th 100-yard rushing game since joining the Falcons. Too bad Turner doesn’t play for the Saints. Sean Payton would have kept feeding Turner the ball and given him a shot at a 500-yard day.
Roddy’s records: Roddy White became Atlanta’s all-time leader in receiving yards. He passed Terance Mathis’ previous record of 7,349 yards. White also had his 100th catch of the season. That makes White the first player to have two seasons of 100 or more catches.
Farewell, Jeff George: Quarterback Matt Ryan surpassed Jeff George’s 1995 record for passing yards in a season (4,143).
The Morris Watch: If Tampa Bay’s ownership hadn’t made a decision about the future of coach Raheem Morris before Sunday, another embarrassing loss couldn’t have helped his case. This game was over almost as soon as it started and it’s stunning to remember that the Bucs beat the Falcons in Week 3. As has been the case through most of the losing streak, the Bucs looked like a team with no direction. At some point in the next few days, the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs will have to break its silence and let the world know if they’re sticking with Morris or going in a different direction.
What’s next: The Falcons have to wait until the end of Sunday night’s game between the Giants and Cowboys to find out where they’ll travel to for the first round of the playoffs. The Buccaneers will get a top 10 draft pick and an offseason that’s sure to be filled with change even if Morris stays.
These disappointments received the most votes for each club:
- Defensive end Aaron Maybin (11th in 2009)
- Tackle Mike Williams (fourth in 2002)
- Quarterback J.P. Losman (22nd in 2004)
- Defensive tackle John McCargo (26th in 2006)
- Defensive end Erik Flowers (26th in 2000)
- Receiver Yatil Green (15th in 1997)
- Receiver Ted Ginn (ninth in 2007)
- Running back John Avery (29th in 1998)
- Cornerback Jamar Fletcher (26th in 2001)
- Receiver Randal Hill (23rd in 1991), Eric Kumerow (16th in 1988), running back Sammie Smith (ninth in 1989)
New England Patriots
- Running back Laurence Maroney (21st in 2006)
- Receiver Chad Jackson (36th in 2006)
- Receiver Hart Lee Dykes (16th in 1989)
- Cornerback Chris Canty (29th in 1997)
- Offensive lineman Eugene Chung (13th in 1992), defensive end Kenneth Sims (first in 1982), linebacker Chris Singleton (eighth in 1990)
New York Jets
- Running back Blair Thomas (second in 1990)
- Defensive end Vernon Gholston (sixth in 2008)
- Tight end Kyle Brady (ninth in 1995)
- Defensive tackle DeWayne Robertson (fourth in 2003)
- Receiver Johnny "Lam" Jones (second in 1980)
Posted by ESPN.com's Brett Longdin
Considering Ted Thompson's propensity for draft-day trades -- he's made at least one move backwards to collect more picks in each of his four previous drafts with the team -- it's hard to know if Green Bay will remain at No. 9.
But if Thompson does keep that first-round pick, there is a history of success coming out of the No. 9 slot. Some of the noteworthy No. 9 selections have been: Gerald Riggs (1982, Atlanta), Terry McDaniel (1988, L.A. Raiders), Lincoln Kennedy (1993, Atlanta), Bruce Matthews (1983, Houston) and Richmond Webb (1990, Miami).
Looking back at the No. 9 pick since 1999, there have been hits and misses: LB Keith Rivers (2008), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (2007), LB Ernie Sims (2006), DB Carlos Rogers (2005), WR Reggie Williams (2004), DT Kevin Williams (2003), DT John Henderson (2002), WR Koren Robinson (2001), LB Brian Urlacher (2000) and LB Chris Claiborne (1999).
Brett Longdin is an ESPN.com blog editor based in Wisconsin.