Julio is a common Spanish male name. On Sunday, October 2nd, there was nothing common about Julio Jones or Julio Teheran. Julio Jones is a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. Julio Teheran is a starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.
Jones had only one catch for 16 yards the week before against the New Orleans Saints. Those are disrespectful numbers for one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He had a total of 10 catches for 188 yards in the first three games of the season. This past Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, there was a concerted effort early and often to remedy that. Jones was thrown to on the first three plays of the game for 51 yards. From that point on, the Falcons exploited the single coverage Jones was in. At the end of the first quarter he had four catches for 94 yards and seven catches for 170 yards at halftime. Apparently the Panthers coaching staff thought Jones was not going to come out of the locker room for the second half. They were wrong. Jones torched them for five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown came on a 75 yard slant pattern from Matt Ryan. Ryan passed for 503 yards in the game, setting a personal and franchise record. Jones finished with a total 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown, also a personal and franchise record. Jones is only one of six players to ever have 300 or more yards receiving. Former Los Angeles Rams Willie “Flipper” Anderson holds the record for 336 yards against the Saints back in 1989. Jones said, “When you’re playing a team in your division that you see all the time, you know each other so well and you really don’t know which way they’re going to play you. But me and Matt have great chemistry. So a day like this can happen. I’m very pleased. All I can do is go out and play 100 percent and let my production speak. But in this game, you rely so much on everyone else. We had a good team game today.” The Falcons’ 48-33 win helped them improve to 3-1 for the season.
Teheran was selected to start the first game for the Braves this season. That game resulted in a 4-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in ten innings, in which Teheran allowed two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings. In Major League Baseball, it is a huge honor to pitch the opening game of the season. This was the third consecutive year that Teheran has had that distinguished privilege. It was fitting that he start the final game of the season at Turner Field. Teheran started off the first inning striking out all three batters he faced. The lone score was a sacrifice fly by Freddie Freeman in the bottom of the 1st inning. The Detroit Tigers only real threat of scoring was in the second inning when Martinez singled and Castellanos walked with one out. Teheran then proceeded to strike out McCann and get Iglesias to pop out to the shortstop. He tied a career high with 12 strikeouts without giving up a single run in seven innings. He gave up only three hits while throwing 69 strikes out of 100 pitches. He had to be great because he was battling pitcher Justin Verlander for the Tigers, who needed the win to advance to the postseason. Jim Johnson came in during the ninth inning to save the game and give the Braves a 1-0 victory. Teheran’s record this season was 7-10 and only one win at home. It wasn’t his fault the team couldn’t score runs when he pitched. That’s why on Sunday he had to be near perfect. I’m sure having the “Big 3” Hall of Fame pitchers of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in attendance was extra motivation for him. Teheran said, “I wanted to go because everybody was excited, and I’m glad I had my stuff. I couldn’t make it any better than that. It was special to see the crowd, looking for a win. That’s the way we wanted to win and close this book.”
Teheran’s season is over while Jones’ is just beginning. In the grand scheme of things, they are only 25 and 27 years old respectively. Both of them are starting to reach their prime as professional athletes. Hopefully the city of Atlanta will be able to enjoy more of these moments from Julio and Julio. Stay tuned.