The Texans haven't traveled to Atlanta to play the Falcons since 2007 and that was the only time the Texans played a regular season game in Atlanta. Of course, no current Texans were on the 2007 roster but a few Texans had memorable moments playing in the Georgia Dome. For most, it was the last time they played in that arena.
-- Kareem Jackson's last trip as a player to the Georgia Dome occurred in 2009 in the SEC Championship Game. Kareem's Alabama Crimson Tide knocked off The Fightin' Tebows, aka the Florida Gators, 32-13 for the 2009 SEC Championship. That win earned the Tide a trip to the National Championship game nearly a month later to face Texas in the Rose Bowl.
-- Jeoffrey Pagan has been to the Dome a few times, but in my only trip to the Georgia Dome, Pagan's 2012 Crimson Tide squad outlasted Georgia in the 2012 SEC Championship game 32-28. The game is one of the top three football games I've ever seen live. I haven't seen a better football live since that one in December 2012. I asked Pagan about that 2012 game and the biggest smile came over his face...
"Whooo, that was a wild game."
-- DeAndre Hopkins cemented his 2013 first round NFL Draft status with his last trip to the Georgia Dome. In one of the great wins in recent Clemson history, Hopkins led the Tigers on a 4th quarter comeback win 25-24 over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, as he finished the day with 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. "NUUUUUUUUUUUUK" was heard early and often throughout the Georgia Dome that night. In fact, Hopkins 2012 season, his last at Clemson, was bookended by trips to the Georgia Dome. The first trip to the Dirty Dirty that year was a win over Jay Prosch's Auburn team in which DeAndre had another 13 catches. 26 catches in two games in the Georgia Dome? I'm hoping for another performance quite like that one on Sunday.
When I asked him if he remembered his last game in the Georgia Dome, he knew right away. "I think it was my last game when we beat LSU, right?" Then, this sheepish smile came across his face...
"I played alright."
Perhaps the understatement of the year.
-- Speaking of Prosch, I asked Jay if he remembered his last trip to the Georgia Dome. "Hmm, the Clemson game?" He meant the Clemson game of 2012 but he was off by a year. I reminded him of his last game at the Georgia Dome - the 2013 SEC Championship. Mizzou? 59-42? Ring a bell, Jay?
"Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me. That was a great memory."
All he did that day was lead block for current St. Louis Rams RB Tre Mason 46 times...to the tune of 304 yards. Prosch essentially paved the way for Mason to get a Heisman Trophy invite to New York City the following weekend.
-- A knee injury cost Alfred Blue most of his 2012 season, including that matchup with Hopkins and Clemson. As such, the last time he was in uniform at the Georgia Dome as an LSU Tiger, he was also on the winning end of an SEC Championship. The sophomore led the Tigers that day with eight carries for 94 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers' 42-14 win over Georgia in the 2011 SEC Championship game. Not to mention, who also had eight carries and two touchdowns for LSU that day? Texans practice squad member Kenny Hilliard.
-- Unfortunately, there was Texan/Bulldog on the receiving end of that LSU beat down in his last game in the Georgia Dome. Not surprisingly, I didn't even have the heart to ask Ben Jones about that day.
Here's hoping Sunday provides Ben with a new memory.
A winning one.
A look at the college connections between Texans and Falcons players.