Christopher Owens saves day for Falcons

Atlanta cornerback Christopher Owens never has been a big name. He’s spent most of his career as a backup. But Owens made the play of the day for the Falcons on Sunday and it could end up being the biggest play of Atlanta’s season.

The Falcons had built a 17-0 lead, but they allowed the Vikings to get back into the game late. Atlanta led by 10 with just under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Percy Harvin took a kickoff in his own end zone and returned it 104 yards, but Owens was able to chase Harvin down at the 3-yard line. Atlanta’s defense then came up with a goal-line stand and the Falcons won 24-14.

Had Harvin scored and the Falcons had lost, their playoff hopes would have taken a big hit. Instead, they're 7-4 and kept with the New Orleans Saints, who are 7-3 and host the New York Giants on Monday night.

“That was the most pivotal play in the ballgame in my opinion,’’ Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. “For (Owens) and the effort that he put forth to run Percy Harvin down, and get him down on the 3-yard line, it allowed us to put our defense out there and have an opportunity to live to play another play. We were able to have a goal-line stand. There were a number of guys that made some significant plays in that goal-line stand, but I believe it was (linebacker) Sean Weatherspoon from my vantage point that knifed in on the fourth down and was the first one to make the hit. You can’t say enough about our effort. If you have that type of effort, you are going to greatly enhance your chances of winning. You can overcome some of your shortcomings and some of the mistakes you make by hustling. That was a great play by Chris Owens.”