Julio Jones had the Carolina Panthers' secondary beat in Week 10 for a wide-open touchdown. Uncharacteristically, the ball caromed off his hands for an inexplicable drop on a fourth-down shot that would have cut the Falcons' deficit to three points with more than half the fourth quarter remaining.
The drop put the Falcons behind an eight ball, and they couldn't recover, suffering an important division loss that has the reigning NFC champs on the verge of possibly missing the playoffs if they lose to Carolina again. Ahead of Sunday's pivotal tilt, with a playoff spot on the line, Jones is out to make sure those missed opportunities don't happen again.
"Every game is always about taking advantage of your opportunities]. We had some missed opps in that game, and we don't want those to occur this Sunday," Jones said, [via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Division opponent, they're definitely going to play hard. We're going to play hard, but it's not about them.
"We've just got to focus on us and bring our best."
Jones was targeted 12 times in the Week 10 loss, catching six for 118 yards. The Pro Bowl receiver has torched the Panthers in his career. In 10 games versus Carolina, he's averaging 106.1 yards per game with five total TDs. In the last four meetings alone, Jones averaged 164.0 receiving yards per game.
Jones has been dealing with ankle and thumb injuries that have kept him out of practices in recent weeks. The 6-foot-3 receiver said the issues wouldn't hinder him Sunday.
"As far as practice, I get those mental reps. I don't have to physically be out there," he said. "It's just a mindset and a mentality. I've been dealing with injuries my whole life, so it takes a different type of guy to go out there and play injured and know something's wrong. I'm good. I'll be ready to go."
In the most crucial game of the season for Atlanta, the Falcons need their most dangerous weapon as healthy as possible. And this time he can't flub any wide-open touchdowns or the season might be over.