In their 51 seasons, the Atlanta Falcons have had the third-worst record in the NFL – with only Arizona and Tampa Bay having worse records. They face the New England Patriots, who have had the fifth best NFL win percentage as a franchise, in Super Bowl LI.
In Part 1, we cover the first two and half decades of the franchise (1966-1989) where they amassed a 129-218-5 (.366) record and a 1-3 playoff record. They ended the 1980’s with their seventh straight losing season and had four wins or less for the 11th time in 24 years.
In Part 2, we cover the 1990’s where the Falcons had a 72-88 (.450) record and were 3-3 in the playoffs including making it to their first Super Bowl. In contrast, during this same period the Patriots were 68-92 (.425) and were 3-4 in the playoffs including their second Super Bowl appearance.
In Part 3, we cover the Falcons in this new century where they have had their best stretch yet and managed to have consecutive winning seasons for the first time ever.
in 1989, the Falcons used the 5th pick in the draft to select a defensive back from Florida State – Deion Sanders.
In 1990, Prime Time (aka Neon Deion) was joined with new coach Jerry Glanville. In 1991 their 9-year streak of losing records ended when, despite opening with a 5-5 record, the Falcon finished with a 10-6 record and a wild card birth in their final season at Fulton County Stadium.
The Falcons would go on to notch their first road playoff victory, beating the division winning Saints in the Superdome 27-20 on a 61-yard pass play from Chris Miller to Michael Haynes.
From there the Falcons took their 2-Legit-2-Quit show with rapper MC Hammer to Washington’s RFK Stadium to face what was arguably Joe Gibbs’ best Redskin team. To congratulate the team on a 14-2 season, the Washington Post handed out seat cushions to fans which became frisbees the fans used to pelt the Falcons as the Redskins shut them down 24-7.
The Redskins had crushed the Falcons earlier in the year 56-17. Late in the game, a rookie quarterback for the Falcons threw his first NFL regular season pass only to have it intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Andre Collins. He finished the game 0-4 with two interceptions and a sack. in the off-season, the Falcons traded this rookie – Brett Favre – to Green Bay and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1992 the Falcons moved to the Georgia Dome. Despite winning their opening game, the Falcons returned to their losing ways for three seasons.
In 1995, the Falcons went 9-7 and earned a wild card matchup at Lambeau Field against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Favre threw for three touchdowns, as the Packers won 37-20.Embed from Getty Images
The Road to Miami
In 1997, the Falcons hired Dan Reeves as their head coach. Reeves had coached John Elway to three Super Bowls – losing each time. The next year, the Falcons had their best season ever, going 14-2 and winning the NFC West. This was an achievement since Reeves missed five weeks after having quadruple bypass heart surgery.
The Falcons hosted their second playoff game ever – and first in the Georgia Dome – against the San Francisco 49ers – winning 20-18. Then the Falcons returned to the Metrodome, where they had blown a lead in a 1982 Wild Card game, to face the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC Championship. In an epic battle, kicker Morton Anderson 38-yard field goal in overtime sent the Falcons to the Super Bowl with a 30-27 win.
In the Super Bowl, the Falcons faced Reeves old team – the defending champion Denver Broncos in what was John Elway’s last game. Denver dominated the Falcons 34-19.
Same Old, Same Old
After making it to the Super Bowl, the Falcons had three consecutive losing seasons.
|Points||Off Rank||Def Rank||Overall Rank|
|Year||W||L||T||Div. Finish||Playoffs||PF||PA||Coaches||Pts||Yds||Pts||Yds||out of|
|1999||5||11||0||3rd of 5||285||380||Reeves||23||27||25||16||31|
|1998||14||2||0||1st of 5||Lost SB||442||289||Reeves||4||7||4||8||30|
|1997||7||9||0||3rd of 5||320||361||Reeves||18||23||21||20||30|
|1996||3||13||0||4th of 5||309||461||Jones||19||17||30||29||30|
|1995||9||7||0||2nd of 5||Lost WC||362||349||Jones||11||10||19||29||30|
|1994||7||9||0||3rd of 4||317||385||Jones||15||7||24||27||28|
|1993||6||10||0||3rd of 4||316||385||Glanville||12||11||28||25||28|
|1992||6||10||0||3rd of 4||327||414||Glanville||11||10||28||28||28|
|1991||10||6||0||2nd of 4||Lost Div||361||338||Glanville||5||8||20||24||28|
|1990||5||11||0||4th of 4||348||365||Glanville||10||10||21||19||28|