Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer 78d

Falcons get on track with latest touchdown celebration



In the midst of the drama of last Sunday's 30-26 win over the Detroit Lions, the Atlanta Falcons' wide receivers managed to have a little fun.

As Taylor Gabriel reminded folks Tuesday afternoon, the celebration of his 40-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the fourth quarter incorporated a track and field element.

Gabriel told ESPN the wide receivers came up with the celebration as a group but didn't practice it leading into the game. After Gabriel's score, he lined up in the end zone and stuck his left hand out to take the "baton" from Julio Jones. Gabriel then pretended to pass off to Justin Hardy and Mohamed Sanu near the bench.

The NFL relaxed the rules this season, allowing such group celebrations without penalty. The Falcons immediately took advantage with Austin Hooper and Sanu celebrating Hooper's 88-yard touchdown in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears with a handshake and free throw. Gabriel didn't like the creativity and gave it a six on a scale of 10.

Then against Green Bay, running back Devonta Freeman and left guard Andy Levitre carried out a basketball-themed celebration they were supposed to complete the week before, but Levitre forgot. Gabriel gave that one a 10.

And what about the latest one involving Gabriel himself?

"Ten," Gabriel said.

Gabriel has never run track, but the celebration makes you wonder what type of 4x100 relay team the Falcons could put together. It's been discussed in the locker room before.

"(Robert) Alford, T-Cole (Tevin Coleman), me, and Julio," Gabriel said. "Thirty-nine seconds flat, for sure."

The world record is 36.84 seconds, set by Jamaica with Usain Bolt in August of 2012.

Gabriel does have a favorite track athlete. It's not Bolt.

"Big fan of Allyson Felix," he said of the sprinter. "Love her stride extension. It's close to the way I run."

By the way, the Falcons are fifth in the league in scoring at 29 points per game after three games. They have nine touchdowns, including a team-leading four by Freeman. This Sunday's opponent, the Buffalo Bills, has the league's best scoring defense after three games. The Bills are allowing just 12.3 points per game and have surrendered just two touchdowns thus far.

We'll see if the Falcons and Gabriel have reason to celebrate.

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