Most Atlanta Falcons fans can tell you where they were on October 2, 2016. That is the date when legendary receiver Julio Jones torched the Panthers for 300 yards and Matt Ryan threw for over 500 yards.
It was a legendary moment by two legendary players and it deserves a rewind as the Falcons prepare to play the Panthers in week 15 of the 2023 NFL Season.
Looking back on Julio Jones and Matt Ryan's historic performances in 2016
The 2016 NFL Season brings a lot of joy and a lot of agony to the hearts of Atlanta Falcons fans. On one hand, we all watched a historically great offense go to work every week, but on the other, it all ended in the most crushing loss in the history of sports.
But we are going to focus on one of the many highlights of that season. On October 2, 2016—week four of the 2016 season—the 2-1 Atlanta Falcons hosted the 1-2 Carolina Panthers for what ended up being the final game the Panthers played in the Georgia Dome—and with every finale come fireworks.
Those fireworks came off of the arm of Matt Ryan and the hands of Julio Jones—one of the greatest duos in NFL history.
It all started after the Panthers punted the ball on their first possession. Julio Jones caught a 22-yard pass on the first play, then a 14-yard pass on the second play, and then a 15-yard pass on the third play. The drive resulted in a touchdown.
On the next drive, Julio Jones caught a rainbow from Ryan for 43 yards which set up a touchdown. After a short catch on the third drive, Julio caught another long, arching pass for 53 yards.
At halftime, Julio had 170 yards receiving. That is remarkable.
In the second half, Julio caught a few short passes but then put an exclamation mark on his day by catching a pass over the middle, stiff-armed a defender, and turned on the jets for a 75-yard touchdown, giving him exactly 300 yards on the day. Very reminiscent of what he would do to the Packers in the NFC Championship game a few months later.
Matt Ryan went 28 for 37 for 503 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT. Julio caught 12 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown.
There have only been five receivers to ever break the 300-yard mark—Flipper Anderson (336 yds), Calvin Johnson (329), Stephone Paige (309), Jim Benton (303), and Cloyce Box (302). Julio and Calvin Johnson are the only ones to break 300 yards since Flipper Anderson in 1989.
He also ended up getting Panthers CB Bené Benwikere cut the next day.
This was an incredible day for Julio. It was just one of the many games where he torched the Panthers. Just the season before, Julio helped propel his team to a major upset over the undefeated Panthers. That ended up being the only blemish during the Panthers regular season.
As for Ryan and his 500 passing yards, it is something only 22 other quarterbacks have ever been able to do in a four-quarter football game. Ryan broke 500 passing yards with the second-fewest passing attempts (37)—Tony Romo threw for 506 yards on 36 attempts
With what we have gone through recently, it makes you appreciate the players we had a few years ago. Just wish we could have made that one extra play to close out a historic season.