Atlanta Falcons’ History (Pt 2): The Nineties

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.

Prime Time

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.

Georgia Dome

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.

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.

Team Records, Leaders, and League Ranks Table
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
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/28/2017.
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