Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, tight end Tony Gonzalez and second-year wide receiver Julio Jones were named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl team on Wednesday.
Ryan has guided the Falcons to a 13-2 mark, the NFC South title and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
The 24-man rosters for each the AFC and NFC, plus five special-teams players were announced on NFL Network.
Atlanta’s star players hope to be occupied with preparing for the Super Bowl in New Orleans instead of the NFL’s all-star game in Hawaii. The teams playing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 don’t send players to the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27.
The Falcons had several players who could have been honored as they have the best record in the NFC.
The AFC and NFC squads are based on the votes of players, coaches and fans with each group’s vote counting for one-third. The voting for all three groups ended last week.
In addition to Ryan, Gonzalez and Jones, other Atlanta candidates were wide receiver Roddy White, defensive end John Abraham and safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud. Gonzalez, Ryan and White were among the seven players the Falcons sent to the Pro Bowl in 2010, when they also had the NFC’s best record.
It is not known if any of the Falcons are first or second alternates, who would replace injured of Super Bowl-bound players. In 2010, Brent Grimes went as the replacement for Green Bay’s Charles Woodson.
Gonzalez received the nod from fans with 553,198 votes. Gonzalez has been named to 14 Pro Bowl rosters, including the past three.
Gonzalez, 36, ranks second among the league’s tight ends with 88 catches for 889 yards and is tied for third with eight touchdowns. His 63 catches for first downs are the most for a tight end, outpacing the Saints’ Jimmy Graham by nine.
Even when Gonzalez has a quiet game, such as when he had just one catch for nine yards during Atlanta’s victory at Detroit on Saturday, his teammates benefit.
Ryan has recovered from a mid-season lull to finish the season strong. He ranks third in the NFC in touchdown passes (31), fourth in passing yards (4,481), fifth in quarterback rating (100.2) and second in completion percentage (69).
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers got the most votes from fans among NFC quarterbacks.
Jones is having a stellar second season. The Falcons acquired him in a 2011 blockbuster draft-day trade with the Cleveland Browns. Jones (76 catches, 1,142 yards, 10 touchdowns) has posted strong numbers in spite of Ryan spreading the ball around liberally.
Abraham leads the Falcons in sacks (10) and forced fumbles (nine). He’s tied for third in the NFC in sacks and ranks second in forced fumbles.
DeCoud’s six interceptions rank second to New York’s Stevie Brown among NFC safeties. Moore has four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 75 tackles in spite of missing the past three games because of injury.