Atlanta Falcons

53rd Season First Game Played September 11, 1966

Hits: 511

1966: On September 11th the Falcons took the field at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium led by Coach Norm Hecker, for their first official game against the Los Angeles Rams. After the Rams jumped out to a 16-0 lead, the Falcons scored 14 points to get back in the game. However, the Rams would score a Field Goal, to ice a 19-14 win, dropping the Falcons to 0-1. The Falcons would go on to lose their first nin games before traveling to New York on November 20th where they beat the Giants 26-14. The Falcons would go on to split their final four games to finish with a 3-11 record in their inaugural season.

1967: The Falcons are a major disappointment in their second season only posting one win in a dreadful 1-12-1 season, in which Quarterback Randy Johnson throws more than two Interceptions for every Touchdown.

1968: After another dreadful 0-3 start, Coach Norm Hecker is fired and replaced by legendary Quarterback Norm Van Brocklin. After losing their first game under the Dutchman, the Falcons defeated the New York Giants at Fulton County Stadium 24-21. However, the Falcons would win only one more game the rest of the way, and would go on to finish with an awful 2-12 record.

1969: The Falcons get the season off on the right note as they defeat the San Francisco 49ers at Fulton County Stadium. However, the Falcons would lose their next three games playing some of the top teams in the NFL, as they got off to a 3-8 start. On December 7th at Fulton County Stadium Fullback Harmon Wages has the game of a lifetime, throwing a Touchdown pass, receiving a Touchdown pass and running for a Touchdown pass, as the Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints 45-17. The win was first of 3 wins to close the season, as the Falcons finished with a vastly improved 6-8 record.

1970: The Falcons play solid football as they get off to a 3-3 start. However, the Falcons would win just one more game the rest of the way, while finishing with a disappointing 4-8-2 record.

1971: The Falcons entered their final game of the season in New Orleans on December 19th with a 6-6-1 record, needing a win against the Saints for their first winning season. Rookie Wide Receiver Ken Burrow playing with a broken wrist has his second game in which he collected 190 receiving yards as the Falcons score with 40 seconds left to pull out a 24-20 win for their first winning season at 7-6-1.

1972: Standing at 7-5 the Falcons travel to San Francisco with NFC Western Division Title on the line. However, the Falcons are never in the game and see their playoff hopes end with a 20-0 shutout loss at the hands of the 49ers. Facing the Kansas City Chiefs in their final game of the season at Fulton County Stadium Running Back Dave Hampton surpasses the 1,000-yard mark on the season. However, a play later he is thrown for a six yard loss and ends the season with 995 yards, as the Falcons lose and finish 7-7.

1973: The Falcons start the season in impressive fashion by destroying the Saints 62-7 in New Orleans. However, the Falcons would only mage 15 points total in their next three games, which were all losses. The Falcons would recover to win their next seven games to get into contention for the playoffs, scoring more then 40 points three times. However, the Falcons would drop two of their final three games to finish with a 9-5 record, missing the playoffs by one game. Meanwhile Running Back Dave Hampton came tantalizingly close to the 1,000-yard mark falling three yards short with 997.

1974: The Falcons stumble out of the gate losing their first three games. After winning their next two games the Falcons continue to struggle losing their next three games, before Coach Norm Van Brocklin is fired and replaced by Marion Campbell. Under Campbell the Falcons continued to struggle losing their next five games before winning their final game of the season to finish with a disappointing 3-11 record.

1975: Under rookie Quarterback Steve Bartkowsi the Falcons struggle again and finish with a 4-10 record. Despite the poor record, Running Back Dave Hampton final achieves his goal by rushing for 61 yards in his final game to tally up 1,002 yards on the season.

1976: Steve Bartkowski continues to struggle in his second year as Quarterback, throwing only two Touchdowns, while being picked off nine times. Bartkowski would alter be benched in favor of Kim McQuilken who was even worse throwing 10 interceptions to just two Touchdowns. Amid this backdrop the Falcons stood at 4-8 when Coach Marion Campbell resigned. The Falcons would go on to lose their final two games under Pat Peppler to finish at 4-10.

1977: Under new Coach Leeman Bennett, the Falcons have one of the finest defenses, in NFL history; nicknamed the “Gritz Blitz” they allow just 129 setting a record for a 14-game season. However, the Falcons offense would have trouble putting points on the board themselves tallying just 179 points, in a 7-7 season.

1978: Trailing the Saints 17-6 in New Orleans with 2:23 left in the game the Falcons drive 80 yards to get within four points. The Falcons would get the ball back as time was winding down needing a miracle to pull out a win. As the clock struck zero Quarterback Steve Bartkowski heaved up a pass 57 yards where Wide Receiver Alfred Jackson emerged from a cluster to pull out victory 20-17. The win capped a five game winning streak and improved to 7-4 on the season. The Falcons would lose three of their final five games, but were still able to qualify for the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in their first ever playoff game, the Falcons scored 2 TDs in their final 14 minutes to pullout a 14-13 win, as the Eagles missed a Field Goal as time expired. A week later the Falcons were 14-point underdogs facing the Cowboys in Dallas. The Falcons would actually take a 20-13 lead into halftime, but the Cowboys would battle back to take a 27-20 lead. With one last shot the Falcons would fall inches short of a first down on the Cowboys 32 yard line, as the Cowboys got the ball and ran down the clock.

1979: Rookie Fullback William Andrews has an impressive debut rushing for 167 yards in a 40-34 overtime win over the Saints in the season opener in New Orleans. Andrews would go on to set a club record with 1,023 yards, while Quarterback Steve Bartkowski became the first Flacon to surpass the 2,000-yard mark with 2,505. However, the Falcons defense struggled allowing 388 points in a disappointing 6-10 start.

1980: After a 3-3 start the Falcons fly off to an amazing nine game winning streak as Quarterback Steve Bartkowski has a career season passing for 3,544 yards while connecting on 31 Touchdown passes, as the Falcons won their first ever division Championship. Despite a 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on the road in overtime in their final game, which dropped them to 12-4 the Falcons, would earn home field through out the playoffs. Playing before 60,022 fans at Fulton County Stadium the Falcons lead the Dallas Cowboys 24-10 in the 4th Quarter. However, the Cowboys would score 20 points to stun the Falcons 30-27.

1981: The Falcons get off to a solid 3-0 start, but lose three key starters for the season in a 34-17 win at Fulton County Stadium over the San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons would go to finish the season with a disappointing 7-9 record, losing seven games by five points or less.

1982: In a season interrupted by a two month Player’s strike the Falcons get off to a 5-2 start sewing up a playoff spot. However, by being blown out in their final two games the Falcons are forced to start the playoffs on the road in Minnesota. The Falcons would lead the game 21-16 entering the 4th Quarter, despite not scoring an offensive Touchdown, but would end up falling 30-24 to the Vikings. Following the game Coach Leeman Bennett is dismissed, and replaced by Dan Henning.

1983: William Andrews sets a new club record with 1,567 yards rushing, as Quarterback Steve Bartkowski has another stellar season passing for 3,167 yards. However, the Falcons defense gets burned for 389 points on the season as the Falcons finish with a 7-9 record.

1984: The Falcons are dealt a tremendous blow before the season even starts when Running Back William Andrews severely injures his knee in a preseason workout. The injury would effectively end his career. In the season opener Andrews replacement Gerald Riggs would step in and rush for 202 yards in a season opening win over the Saints in New Orleans. Riggs would go on to rush for 1,486 yards on the season, while scoring 13 Touchdowns. However the Falcons porous defense allows 382 points as the Falcons finish with a terrible 4-12 record.

1985: Gerald Riggs has a stellar season rushing for 1,719 yards, as the Falcons play most of the season without Quarterback Steve Bartkowski. However, the Falcons defense is the weak spot again allowing an embarrassing 452 points as the Falcons finish with a 4-12 record for the 2nd season in a row.

1986: With David Archer replacing Quarterback Steve Bartkowski, who had been released, the Falcons get off to a solid 5-1-1 start. However, the Falcons would only win two mores the rest of the season finishing with a 7-8-1 record. Following the season Coach Dan Henning is fired, and replaced by Marion Campbell who led the Falcons from 1974-1976. The season also marked the end to Jeff Van Note’s 18-year career; the Falcons would honor their center by retiring his number, and presenting him with a 57 Chevy prior to his final game.

1987: In Marion Campbell’s return to sidelines the Falcons suffer a miserable 3-12 season as they have trouble finding a replacement for Quarterback Steve Bartkowski, whose career was cut short due to injuries.

1988: The Falcons would endure another awful season finishing in last place with a terrible 5-11 season. However, Cornerback Scott Case provided some what of a bright spot by intercepting ten passes on the season whole earning player of the month honors in November.

1989: Just days after ending his holdout and hitting a Home Run for the New York Yankees, Deion Sanders starts his NFL career with a bang by scoring a Touchdown on a 67-yard Punt return. However, the Falcons would still lose to the Los Angeles Rams at Fulton County Stadium 31-21. It would be the first time an athlete hit a Home Run and scored a Touchdown in the same week. The Falcons would continue to struggle and after a 3-9 start Coach Marion Campbell is fired and replaced by Jim Hanifan. The Falcons would go on to lose their final four games finishing at 3-13, despite a stellar season in which Deion collected over 1,000 in return yards.

1990: Now led by Coach Jerry Glanville who was known for his black wardrobe, the Falcons return to the black uniforms form their early days while introducing a new black helmet. The Falcons would start the season in impressive fashion blowing out the Houston Oilers, who fired Glanville nine months earlier, 47-27 at Fulton County Stadium. The Falcons would lose their next 4 before hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in a Primetime Sunday Night match up. The game would be the highest rated Sunday Night game of the season as Neon Deion shined with a 79-yard Punt Return for a Touchdown in a 38-17 win. The Falcons would go on to finish with a 5-11 record, while Deion Sanders became one of the most popular players in the NFL.

1991: Using MC Hammer’s song “2 Legit 2 Quit” as a rallying cry the Falcons pull off another of 4th Quarter Comebacks in their final season at Fulton County Stadium. None of these comebacks was bigger then 44-yard last second prayer caught by Michael Haynes at Fulton County Stadium that beat the San Francisco 49ers 17-14. It was part of a stretch in which they won six out of seven games, while compiling an impressive 7-1 record against division opponents, finishing with a 10-6 record, which was just barely good enough for the 6th seed in the playoffs. As it turned out the Big Ben Pass made the difference because they made it to the postseason via tiebreaker over the 49ers. In the Wild Card Game the Falcons traveled down Bourbon Street for a match up with the Saints. With Wide Receiver Michael Haynes scoring two Touchdown receptions including a 67-yarder in the 4th Quarter the Falcons pulled off an upset win 27-20. However, their season would end a week later with a 24-7 loss in Washington to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Redskins.

1992: Prior to the start of the season the Falcons trade second year Quarterback Brett Favre to the Green Bay Packers, for a draft pick. The move would go on to be one of the biggest blunders n franchise history. The Falcons would start their season off with a 20-17 win over the New York Jets in front of a sellout crowd of 65,585 at the brand new Georgia Dome. After losing three of their next four games Deion Sanders pulled double duty playing for the Falcons in a heartbreaking 21-17 loss to the Dolphins in Miami, before returning to play for the Atlanta Braves in a playoff game that night. The Falcons would go on to finish the season with a disappointing 6-10 record, as their defense allowed 414 points playing more then half the season with out Primetime.

1993: Pro Bowl Cornerback Deion Sanders continued to be an impact player; picking off seven passes while shutting down the league’s top receivers. However, he was just one player and the Falcons could not cover up weaknesses in other defensives potions allowing 385 points in another 6-10 season. Following the season Coach Jerry Glanville is fired, and replaced by June Jones.

1994: With the loss of Deion Sanders to Free Agency, the Falcons, get back to business of football, put aside the showmanship of Primetime, which had become more of a distraction then weapon. The Falcons would also upgrade their Quarterback position by acquiring Jeff George from the Indianapolis Colts. In his first season with the Falcons, George would pass for 3,734 yards, while connecting with Wide Receiver Terrance Mathis 111 times. The Falcons would play solid football most of the season while compiling a 7-9 record.

1995: The Falcons get off to a strong 5-2 start Jeff George embarks on an impressive season in which he passes for 4,143 yards. However, the Falcons would lose five of their next eight games, and needed a win in their final game to make the playoffs. Things looked bleak as the Falcons fell behind early at the Georgia Dome, and lost George to a concussion. However, backup Quarterback Bobby Hebert would lead a 4th Quarter comeback that was capped by a game winning Touchdown pass to Terrance Mathis which won the game 28-27, and sent the Falcons to the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Among the impressive stats on the season where 4 players who racked up over 1,000 yards; on the ground Craig “Ironhead” Heyward rushed for 1,083 yards, while Eric Metcalf, Terrance Mathis, and Bert Emmanuel collected 1,000 in receptions. However, the Falcons season would end quickly with a 37-20 loss in Green Bay to the Brett Favre led Packers.

1996: During a 0-8 start frustrations boil over as Quarterback Jeff George, and Coach June Jones are involved in an ugly screaming match during a Sunday Night 33-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome. The resulting fall out would see George kicked off the team, and was part of a disappointing 3-13 season. The George incident would also lead to the dismissal of Jones following the season.

1997: Under new Coach Dan Reeves the Falcons get off to a shaky 1-7 start. However, once players got use to his system the team would finish the season strong winning six of their final eight games to finish with a 7-9 record. The season would also see the end of an era when Rankin Smith owner from the beginning passes away at the age of 72, just hours before a Sunday Night game against the Carolina Panthers.

1998: The dirty bird became the hottest dance in the NFL as Running Back Jamal Anderson had a breakout season rushing for 1,846 yards, while scoring 16 Touchdowns. Led by Anderson the Falcons would seize the momentum they had from the last season and would get off to a 5-1 start. After a horrid 28-3 loss toe the Jets in New York the Falcons embarked on a season ending nine game winning streak that helped them capture the NFC West with a 14-2 record. However, the season was not without it tenuous moments as Coach Dan Reeves missed the final two games of the season recovering form an emergency Quadruple bypass on his heart. Dan Reeves, who earned Coach of the Year honors, would return for the playoffs as the Falcons hosted the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Playoffs. The Falcons would jump out quickly to a 14-0 lead. However the offense would stall, and would need the defense to step it up as the held on for a heart stopping 20-18 win the advance to the NFC Championship for the first time. Facing the 15-1 Vikings the Falcons were considerable underdogs traveling to Minnesota. Down 20-7 late in the 2nd Quarter the Falcons looked to be going down for the count. However, the Falcons would suddenly grab momentum seize on a turnover, to get back into the game at halftime 20-14. The Falcons defense would step it up and limit the high-powered Vikings offense to just seven points in the second half. However, with late in the 4th Quarter the Falcons still trailed 27-20, with Vikings kicker Gary Anderson setting up for a 38-yard Field Goal. Anderson had not missed a Field Goal all season, but his kick sailed left, and kept the Falcons hopes alive. The Falcons would go on to tie the game when Chris Chandler connected with Terrance Mathis just after the two minute warning. The game would go into overtime where Morten Andersen nailed a 39-yard Field Goal to give the Falcons an improbable victory sending them to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXXIII: Facing the Denver Broncos in Miami, the Falcons became a victim of Super Bowl hype, early as Coach Dan Reeves, got involved in verbal sparring with Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan, and Quarterback John Elway, both of whom he had a major falling out with while Coaching in Denver. Things would only get worse the night before the game when Saftey Eugene Robinson is arrested for soliciting prostitution the night before the game. The Broncos would jump out to a 17-6 halftime lead as Robinson is beaten on an 80-yard Touchdown pass. The Broncos would go on to jump out to a 31-6 lead, before Tim Dwight provide the Falcons lone highlight of the game with a 94-yard kickoff return for a Touchdown, as the Falcons season ended with a bitter 34-19 loss.

1999: Jamal Anderson suffers a season ending knee injury in the second week of the season as the Falcons lose their first four games, on the way to 3-11 start. The Falcons would close out the season by winning their last two games, but a 5-11 record, made their Super Bowl season look like a fluke.

2000: The Falcons get off to a 2-1 start before the injury bug attacks again, as the Falcons lose 11 of their next 12 games. The Falcons would close the season with a win to finish 4-12, but it became clear, a change was needed. Running Back Jamal Anderson would collect 1,024 yards rushing, despite missing about half the season with various ailments. Following the season the Falcons would make a blockbuster draft day trade to select can’t miss Quarterback prospect Michael Vick number one overall.

2001: The Falcons alternate wins and losses all season before finishing with a 7-9 record. During the season Michael Vick looked impressive in limited action passing for 785 yards while collecting 300 yards with his legs. Following the season the Falcons would release Quarterback Chris Chandler assuring Vick of the starting job. In addition the Falcons released Running Back Jamal Anderson after another injury-plagued season in which he was limited to 190 yards rushing. To replace Anderson the Falcons signed Free Agent Warrick Dunn.

2002: In their first full year with Michael Vick at starting Quarterback the Falcons got off to a slow start losing their first two games in heartbreak fashion. Losing in overtime to the Green Bay Packer, then losing 14-13 on a missed field goal by Jay Feeley in their home opener against the Chicago Bears. However, against the Cincinnati Bengals a week later the Falcons got their first win, as a national audience showcased the talents of the Falcons young starting Quarterback. After falling to 1-3 with a home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Falcons showed some resiliency by beating the New York giants on the road with backup Quarterabck Doug Johnson subbing for an injured Michael Vick. Vick would return the following week as the Falcons went unbeaten in their next seven games culminating with an exciting 30-24 overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings in which Vick scored the running Touchdown on a dynamic 46-yard run, that was part of a record breaking 173 rushing yards for the multitalented Quarterback. However, down the stretch the Falcons would struggle winning just one of their final four games. Nonetheless their 9-6-1 record was good enough for a playoff spot as Michael Vick had an impressive first year as starter with 777 rushing yards and 2936 passing yards. In the playoffs Michael Vick would show the poise of a veteran rushing for 64 yards in the snow as the Falcons became the first road team ever to beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs 27-7. However a week later the Falcons would be clipped by the Philadelphia Eagles 20-6.

2003: The Falcons playoff hopes took a blow before the season even started as Quarterback Michael Vick suffered a broken leg in the preseason. Despite missing Vick, the Flacons started the season strong with a solid 27-13 win on the road over the Dallas Cowboys with backup Quarterback Doug Johnson. They appeared to be off to a strong start again in their home opener the following week as they had an early 17-0 lead over the Washington Redskins. However the Redskins would come roaring back and would stun the Falcons 33-31. Things would go from bad to worse as the loss started a seven game losing streak in which the Flacons were barley competitive losing their next six games by an average of 20 points. With Vick healing slower then expected frustrations began to boil over as Coach Dan Reeves questioned his toughness. The Flacons losing streak would come to an with a solid 27-7 road win over the New York Giants, but it was too late to save the Falcons season, as they continued to struggle without Vick losing their next 2 games, before he finally returned during a 17-13 loss on the road to the Houston Texans. Hoping to salvage their lost season Michael Vick made his first start the following week against the Carolina Panthers. With his legs and with his arm Vick accounted for 320 yards as the Falcons stunned the eventual NFC Champions in overtime 20-14. However the win was too late to salvage Dan Reeves’ job as he was fired the following day and replaced in the final three games by Wade Phillips. Under Phillips the Falcons would lose their first game to the Indianapolis Colts, but would bounce back to win their final two games to finish their disappointing season with a 5-11 record finishing in last place in the NFC South.

2004: After a year of injury and frustration, Michael Vick was healthy from the start as the Falcons won their first 4 games under new Coach Jim Mora The Falcons would use the strong start to easily win the NFC South with an 11-5 record as Michael Vick who had ordinary passing numbers with 2,313 yards passing and 14 Touchdown Passes. However, rushing the ball Vick nearly had a record breaking year rushing for 902 yards the 3rd best for a Quarterback in NFL history, falling 66 yards short of the record while seeing only limited action in the final 2 games of the year with the Falcons locked in with the second seed in the NFC Playoffs. The rushing of Vick led the Flacons offense, but it was the improved defense that led the NFL with 48 sacks that helped the Falcons go from first to last as they earned a first round playoff bye. Facing the St. Louis Rams in the Divisional Playoff Round the Falcons controlled the game early as Vick rushed for 119 yards while throwing two Touchdown passes as the Falcons jumped out to a 28-17 lead at halftime and never looked back shutting own the Rams in the second half on the way to a 47-17 win to advance to NFC Championship for the second time in franchise history. In the NFC Championship the Falcons faced a Philadelphia Eagles team starving for success playing in their fourth straight title game. On the road and facing an uphill battle the Falcons fell behind trailing 14-3 early in the 2nd Quarter. The Falcons would make it close scoring a Touchdown just before halftime. However, after halftime the Falcons continued to struggle as Michael Vick was limited to 26 rushing yards and 136 passing yards as the Eagles won 27-10 to advance to Super Bowl XXXIX.

2005: The Falcons got off to a strong start as they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 14-10 during a Monday Night Opener, which saw tensions erupt even before kick off as the Falcons Kevin Mathis got in a fight with Jeremiah Trotter during pre-game warm ups. However a week later the Falcons would see an early stumble as they were upended on the road by the Seattle Seahawks 21-18. After winning their next two games the Falcons were forced to face the two time defending Champion New England Patriots without Michael Vick. The game would see saw back and forth with the Pats jumping out to a 14-0 lead, then the Falcons answering back to get with in one point at halftime only to see the Pats take a 28-13 lead in the 3rd Quarter. In the 4th Quarter the Falcons would comeback again to tie at 28-28 as back up Quarterback Matt Schaub had a solid game. However, the Patriots behind kicker Adam Vinatieri would win the game with 31 second remaining. After the loss Vick would return and the Falcons would win three ganes in a row to sit in first place at 6-2. However, a bad home loss to the Green Bay Packers would trigger a second half free fall that would see the Falcons plummet out of first place and out of the playoffs as the Falcons won just two of their final eight games to finish in third place with a disappointing 8-8 record, that continued a woeful Falcons tradition of not being able to put together back-to-back winning seasons. As Michael Vick struggled in the second half with just 2,412 yard passing and 15 Touchdown passes with 13 interceptions. While Vick disappointed Running Back Warrick Dunn was resurgent rushing for a team high 1,416 yards.

2006: Coming off their disappointing finish the Falcons once again got off to a strong start with impressive wins over the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to start the season 2-0. With a chance to get an early stranglehold on the NFC South the Falcons faced off with the New Orleans Saints, in an emotional return to the Louisiana Superdome. Unfortunately the Falcons got swept away in the emotion as the Saints gave the fans of New Orleans a much needed boost with a 23-3 win. The Falcons would return home and would rebound a week later as Morten Andersen hit five field goals in a 32-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The Falcons appeared to be on the way to 4-1 a week later as they jumper out to a 14-3 lead against the New York Giants, as Warrick Dunn set a team record with a 90-yard Touchdown run. However, the Falcons would stall the rest of the way as the Giants scored 24-unaswered points to win 27-14. Facing the defending Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers a week later, Michael Vick would have one of the best passing days of his career with four Touchdowns in a thrilling 41-38 win in overtime. There were even more thrills the following week as Vick added three more Touchdown passes in a 29-27 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on the road. At 5-2 the Falcons appeared to be one of the top teams in the NFC, when suddenly they went into a tailspin losing to the lowly Detroit Lions 30-14, as Michael Vick struggled. Vick would struggle again the following week with three turnovers in a 17-13 loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons would also lose their next two games to fall to 5-6. After falling behind 14-0 in the 1st Quarter the Falcons would end their 4-game losing streak with 24 unanswered points to beat the Washington Redskins on the road 24-14. A week later they would climb back above .500 with a 17-6 win over the Buccaneers on the road, as Demorio Williams’ 54-yard fumble return for a Touchdown capped a big day for the Falcons defense. Against the Dallas Cowboys a week later, Michael Vick would have another four Touchdown passes, as Morten Andersen became the NFL’s All-Time leader in points. However, the defense was shredded by Tony Romo as they fell to 7-7 win a 38-28 loss. With the elder Jim Mora calling Michael Vick a Coach killer and Falcons Coach Jim Mora the younger expressing a desire to coach his alma matter Washington, the Falcons barely showed up in their final two games losing both to finish the season 7-9. Mora would not get to coach the Huskies, but he would not get to coach the Falcons either as he was fired following the second straight disappointing season. To recommit themselves to franchise QB Michael Vick the Falcons hired Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino whose offensive season was thought to suit the Falcons running Quarterback well. At the same time they traded away back up Matt Schaub, to alleviate some of the pressure coming from the fan base hoping the number two would get a chance.

2007: About a month after Matt Schaub was traded to the Houston Texans, came news of a police raid, at house owned by Michael Vick in Virginia. The raid turned up evidence of illegal dog fighting. Vick immediately denied any knowledge of what occurred on his property, but a police investigation would turn up something completely different. Michael Vick would be among four people named in a federal indictment for dog fighting, which included charges the Falcons star Quarterback gave orders for the killing of dogs that didn’t perform well in the fight. As the news of the indictment came out at the start or training camp, Vick was ordered to stay away, as Animal Rights Protesters threatened a boycott of the NFL if Vick was allowed to play. The bad news would only get worse for Michael Vick, as his three co-defendants all plead guilty, fingering Vick as running the operation. With the threat of more charges pending from a new Federal Grand Jury bringing a possible 20-year prison sentence if found guilty, Vick was forced himself to accept a plea deal on August 27th. The NFL would suspend Vick indefinitely, as he was given an 18 month prison sentence beginning on December 10th. As the Falcons sought a return of Michael Vick’s $20 million signing bonus the team had no choice but to turn to Joey Harrington as their new Quarterback, as the Vick era which began with unprecedented optimism for the Falcons franchise came to a sad end, as the can’t miss All-Pro Quarterback faced time in prison, with any thought of a return to the NFL far on the back burner. Not surprisingly the Falcons season would be a disaster, as the team built around Michael Vick quickly got in a hole losing their first three games. After beating the Matt Schaub led Houston Texans 26-16 the Falcons struggles continued with three more losses for a 1-6 start. A bye week seemed to rejuvenate the Falcons as they won two in a row, behind solid defensive play, but it was just a temporary reprieve as the Falcons would lose their next six games, as Joey Harrington was benched in favor of Chris Redman. Down the stretch things went from bad to worse in Atlanta, as first year Coach Bobby Petrino quit on the team, and went running back to the college ranks to lead Arkansas. With Emmitt Thomas as their coach in their final three games the Falcons were just happy to see the season coming to a merciful end, when they faced the Seattle Seahawks in the final game of the year. With the playoff waiting for Seattle, the Seahawks played the game like a preseason game, with starters seeing little if any time on the field. This enabled the Falcons to finish the season on a winning note as Chris Redman had four touchdown passes in a solid 44-41 win.

2008: Emerging from the ashes of the 2007 season the Falcons had low expectations as they were starting from scratch with a new coach in Mike Smith and a new franchise Quarterback in Matt Ryan who was picked with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. With Ryan getting the starting job from the start of the season, the Falcons faced the Detroit Lions in Week 1 and got off to a terrific start, connecting with Michael Jenkins on a 62 yard Touchdown pass in his first series on the field, as the Falcons started the season with a 34-21 win. Also making an immediate impact in that season opening win was Running Back Michael Turner who set a new franchise record with 220 yards rushing in his debut with the Falcons, after being signed as a free agent off the San Diego Chargers in the off-season. After splitting their first four games, the Falcons got their first signature victory of the season, with a 24-24 upset over the Green Bay Packers on the road, as Matt Ryan continued to show the poise of a veteran. A week later Ryan collected his first 300 yard passing game, quickly getting the Falcons in field goal range after the Chicago Bears took a 20-19 lead with 11 seconds left, as Jason Elam gave the Falcons a dramatic 22-20 victory with a 48 yard Field Goal. After a 27-14 setback at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles coming out of the bye week, the Falcons continued to stun the experts, winning four of their next five games as they were in the thick of the playoff chase. After a 29-25 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons won a key game for their playoff hopes, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime 13-10, as Michael Turner rushed for 1500 yards and John Abraham collected three key sacks. A week later they would clinch the playoffs with a 24-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on the road. The Falcons would go on to finish the season with an 11-5 record, as Matt Ryan was named Offensive Rookie of the Year with 3,440 yards passing and 16 Touchdown passes, while Mike Smith won Coach of the Year honors. In the playoffs the Falcons were matched up against the Arizona Cardinals in the Wildcard round. For the first time all season it appeared Quarterback Matt Ryan had some butterflies as he committed three costly turnovers, including a botched fumble that was 27 yards returned for a Touchdown that gave the Cardinals a 21-17 lead in the opening moments of the second half. Ryan would also get sacked in the endzone for a safety, as the Cardinals won their first home playoff game in 61 years 30-24.

2009: Coming off their surprise playoff appearance, the Falcons started the season on a high note, beating the Miami Dolphins 19-7, as future Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez, who was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in the off-season had five receptions for 73 yards with a Touchdown in his Atlanta debut. The Falcons would springboard off the season opening win to start off 4-1 entering a showdown with the Dallas Cowboys. After starting off with a 7-0 in the 1st quarter, the Falcons defense began to struggle as the Cowboys scored 17 unanswered points in the 2nd quarter. Playing comeback the rest of the game, the Falcons would come up short losing their second game of the season 37-21. A week later they would find themselves in another shoot out facing the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. Once again a bad 2nd quarter would spell doom for the Falcons as the Saints posted three touchdowns after the Falcons held a 14-7 after the first 15 minutes. The Falcons would spend the rest of the game playing catch up, as they lost 35-27 with Matt Ryan getting picked off by Darren Sharper to seal the victory for the Saints. After two straight road losses, the Falcons came home and got back on track with a 31-17 victory over the Washington Redskins. However, a week later against the Carolina Panthers the Falcons would suffer another setback, losing on the road 28-19. Making matters worse, RB Michael Turner left the game with a sprained knee that would cause him to miss five games, and playing sparingly the rest of the season. The Falcons road woes would continue a week later, as they dropped to 5-5 with a 34-31 overtime loss to the New York Giants, as Matt Ryan’s game tying heroics with an 11 yard pass to Tony Gonzalez were wasted. A week later at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons were bitten by the injury bug again, as QB Matt Ryan exited with a toe injury. With backup Chris Redman leading the way the Falcons would rally to win the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17, as Redman connected with Roddy White on a five yard Touchdown pass, with 26 seconds left, while facing 4th down and Goal. Without Matt Ryan, the Falcons would suffer a humiliating 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, as Michael Vick returned to the Georgia Dome, scoring two touchdowns. Without Matt Ryan, the Falcons would continue to struggle losing to the Saints at home 26-23 to fall below .500 as their playoff hopes evaporated. Ryan would return a week later and lead a later 4th Quarter rally to beat the New York Jets at the Meadowlands 10-7. Though eliminated from the postseason the win gave the Falcons hopes for a winning season, which they would accomplish with wins over the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ordinarily missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record would be a disappointment. However, this marked the first time in the Falcons 44-year history that they recorded back-to-back winning seasons, which provided hope that they truly had something to build on.

2010: After finishing with back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history, the Falcons hoped to continue the momentum and get back to the postseason. The season started off on a bitter note, as they lost a tough game in overtime 15-9 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were without Quarterback Ben Roethlisburger. Things would go much better in the home opener, as the Falcons crushed the Arizona Cardinals 41-7. A week later the Falcons found themselves in overtime again; as they beat the defending champion New Orleans Saints 24-21 on the road as Matt Bryant hit a 46 yard Field Goal to win on the road. Bryant again played hero a week later as the Falcons narrowly beat the winless San Francisco 49ers 16-14 on 43 yard field goal with two seconds left. The Falcons would win a fourth straight game against the Cleveland Browns 20-10 as a 41 yard interception return for a touchdown by Kroy Biermann salted the game away. After losing on the road to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Falcons rebounded to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 39-32. The win over the Bengals would be the start of an eight game winning streak as the Falcons demonstrated the ability to rally with Quarterback Matt Ryan showing just why he has the nickname “Matty Ice”, as the Falcons rallied in wins over the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The streak helped the Falcons clinch the NFC South and even earn home field advantage in the NFC. In a Monday Night rematch with the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons winning streak came to an end as they lost at the Georgia Dome for the first time all year 17-14. After their loss to the Saints, the Falcons would close the season with a 31-10 win over the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons ended the year with a 13-3 record as Matt Ryan had a solid season with 3,705 yards passing with 28 Touchdown passes, most of which were to WR Roddy White who had an All-Pro Season with 1,389 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. In the Divisional Playoffs the Falcons would face the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of a Week 12 thriller won by the Falcons 20-17 on 47 yard field goal by Matt Bryant in the final seconds. Early on things looked good for the Falcons as they held a 7-0 lead at the end of the 1st Quarter on a 12 yard Touchdown scamper by Michael Turner. In the 2nd Quarter the Packers would tie things early on an Aaron Rodgers Touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson. The Falcons would quickly get the lead back as Eric Weems ran the ensuing kickoff back 102 yards for a touchdown. However, things would go downhill quickly after that, as Packers tied the game on the following drive and eventually took a 21-14 lead with less than a minute to go in the first half on a 20 yard Touchdown pass by Aaron Rodgers to James Jones. Things would only get worse as the first half ended with a 70 yard interception return Tramon Williams that gave the Packers a 28-14 lead. The Packers would put the game away with two touchdowns in the 3rd Quarter. The Packers would win the game 48-21 on the way to winning Super Bowl XLV.

2011: After their disappointing loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Playoff Round, the Falcons looked to add some weapons on offense, as they traded up to draft Wide Receiver Julio Jones. However, in their season opener the Falcons stumbled, losing to the Chicago Bears 30-12. A week later in their home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Falcons found themselves in a hole as the fourth quarter began. However, Matt Ryan would lead the Falcons back with two fourth quarter touchdowns as the Falcons rallied to win the game 35-30. In their first divisional game, the Falcons trailed again as the fourth quarter began. This time their rally would fall short as they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-13. In Week 4, the Falcons would earn their first road win, as they held off the Seattle Seahawks 30-28. In Week 4, the Falcons would host the Green Bay Packers in a primetime rematch of their playoff defeat. The Falcons would lead early as they were up 14-6 at halftime. However, the Packers scored 19 unanswered points in the season half and went on to win the game 25-14. The Falcons continued to rally, as they improved to 3-3 with a 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers, as the Falcons scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Following their bye week, the Falcons finally climbed over .500 for the first time all season, with a solid road win against the Detroit Lions, as Matt Bryant hit three field goals, while Matt Ryan had a touchdown run and a touchdown pass. Following an easy 31-7 win against the Indianapolis Colts, the Falcons hosted the New Orleans Saints, with first place in the NFC South on the line. The game would be an instant classic, as it went back and forth with the game tied 23-23 at the end of regulation. However, in overtime Falcons Coach Mike Smith made a curious decision to attempt to get a first down on 4th down and 1, from their own 29 yard line. The move backfired as Michael Turner was unable to even reach the line of scrimmage as the Saints went on to win the game 26-23. As they have all season the Falcons rebounded the following week to beat the Tennessee Titans 23-17. The Falcons would win again the following against the Minnesota Vikings. However, facing a third string quarterback the Falcons offense sputtered again, as they were beaten by the Houston Texans 17-10 and found themselves stuck once again on the playoff bubble at 7-5. In Week 14, the Falcons again used a second half rally to beat the Panthers 31-23, this time on the road as they scored 24 unanswered points, after trailing at halftime 23-7. As the season came to a close the Falcons offense began to get better as Julio Jones who struggled much of the season, finished strong, as the Falcons topped 40 points in two of their last three games as they made the playoffs for the season straight season, by grabbing a wild card with a 10-6 record. In posting their fourth straight winning season, the Falcons made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history.

2011 Playoffs: Facing the New York Giants in the Meadowlands, the first half of the game was controlled by the defenses, as the Falcons got on the board first with a safety in the second quarter. However, it would be the only points the Falcons would score as the Giants defense simply smothered the Falcons at every angle. The Giants would take the lead for as Eli Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks on a short touchdown. The second half would be all Giants, as the Falcons failure on short yardage plays continued to be a glaring team weakness, as they were turned away three times on fourth and short as the Giants crushed the Falcons 24-2 on the way to winning Super Bowl XLVI. It marked the second straight year the Falcons were beaten by a team that went on a surprising Super Bowl run.

2012: After making the playoffs two straight seasons, for the first time in franchise history, the Atlanta Falcons entered the season with more lofty goals as they needed to prove they could win in the postseason. The season started well for the Falcons who steamrolled the Kansas City Chiefs 40-24, with Matt Ryan passing for 299 yards with three touchdowns on the road. Facing the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, the Falcons got off to a good start in their home opener, as they dominated the first three quarters and had a 27-7 lead. The Broncos behind Peyton Manning would make a late charge, but the Falcons held on for the win 27-21. With Matt Ryan posting another three touchdown game, the Falcons continued to have their way with the AFC West, beating the San Diego Chargers 27-3. A week later at home the Falcons would have their hands full with the Carolina Panthers in their first divisional match up of the season. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked seven times, as the lead traded hands several times. Ryan would pass for 369 yards with three touchdowns, including a 60 yard screen pass to Michael Turner in the 3rd quarter. The game would go down to the wire, as Matt Bryant hit a 40-yard Field Goal with five seconds left to lift the Falcons to a 30-28 win, for their first ever 4-0 start. The Falcons would need another late rally a week later to improve to 5-0 as they beat the Washington Redskins 24-17, behind 17 points in the 4th Quarter, as Matt Ryan passed for 345 yards with two scores. Fourth quarter magic, would continue to be theme again as they edged the Oakland Raiders 23-20, with Matt Bryant winning the game on a 55 yard Field Goal as time expired. Following their bye week, the Falcons continued to remain unbeaten as they blitzed the Philadelphia Eagles 30-17, with Matt Ryan having another solid game, highlighted by a 63-yard Touchdown pass to Julio Jones in the 2nd Quarter. With Matt Ryan passing for 342 yards and Matt Bryant hitting four Field Goals, the Falcons behind a big defensive effort would hit the season’s halfway point with a record of 8-0 as they beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-13. Against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome, Tony Gonzalez became the first Tight End in NFL history with 100 Touchdown receptions, with two scores. However, the Saints would win the game 31-27, ending the Falcons run at perfection. Against the Arizona Cardinals at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons got off to a slow start, trailing 13-0 in the 2nd Quarter. Jonathan Babineaux returned a fumble 15 yards for a Touchdown to get the Falcons back in the game. The Cardinals entering the game with a five game losing streak would frustrate the Falcons all day, as Matt Ryan was picked off five times. However, the Falcons would rally to win the game in the 4th Quarter 23-19 on Michael Turner’s 4th Quarter TD. Turner would be the hero again the following week, as Matt Ryan continued to struggle in a 24-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Four days later, in a rematch with the Saints in Atlanta, the Falcons clinched the NFC South with a 23-13 win, as the Falcons picked off Drew Brees five times, ending his record 54 game touchdown streak. Following a Week 14 road loss to the Panthers, the Falcons made a big statement against the New York Giants, winning 34-0, as Matt Ryan had another three touchdown game. The win was the biggest shutout win over a reigning Super Bowl Champion in NFL history. With home field assured the Falcons would end the season in cruise control, losing two of their last three games as they finished with a record of 13-3.

2012 Playoffs: The Georgia Dome was at its loudest as the Falcons faced the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. With Coach Mike Smith, Tight End Tony Gonzalez and QB Matt Ryan all looking for their first career playoff win the Falcons jumped out to a 20-0 lead at the half, as Matt Ryan connected with Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones on touchdown passes. However, in the second half the Seahawks got on the board, with a nine play 80 yard scoring drive. The Falcons responded with their own 80 yard Touchdown drive, capped by a five yard TD pass from Ryan to Jason Snelling as the Falcons took a 27-7 lead into the 4th Quarter. The Seahawks would build another 80 yard TD as the Falcons were quickly losing their early momentum. A costly interception by Matt Ryan would suddenly turn the party atmosphere in Atlanta to one of trepidation as the Seahawks got within a TD. The Seahawks would go on to take the lead 28-27 with 31 seconds left as Marshawn Lynch score after a long punt return into Falcons territory by Leon Washington. With the ball and two timeouts on their own 28 yard line, the suddenly reeling Falcons got a big 22 yard pass from Matt Ryan to Harry Dougals followed by a 19 yard pass to Gonzalez, which enabled them to get Matt Bryant on the field looking for another game winning Field Goal, which he would miss from 49 yards out. However, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll trying to ice the kicker called timeout, giving Bryant another chance. After taking a breath and focusing Bryant’s second attempt was good putting the Falcons in front 30-28. The game was still not over, as Julio Jones needed to intercept a Hail Mary attempt in the endzone, after the ensuing kickoff gave the Seahawks another chance for the miracle win. Hosting the NFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history, the Falcons once again behind a fired up crowd jumped out to an early lead against the San Francisco 49ers, as Julio Jones caught two touchdown passes from Matt Ryan to build a 17-0 lead. However, the early momentum would ebb again for the Falcons as the 49ers scored on their next two drives. The Falcons would get the momentum back before the end of the first half, as Ryan connected with Tony Gonzalez for this third TD of the game. It would be the last points the Falcons would score, as the 49ers defense flustered the Falcons in the second half, as Frank Gore scored twice to give San Francisco a 28-24 lead. The Falcons would have a chance to take the lead back, as they drove the ball down to the 49ers 13 yard line, but consecutive incompletions on third and fourth down caused a turnover on downs with just 1:13 left in the game as the 49ers won the game and advanced to Super Bowl XLVII.

2013: After losing in the NFC Championship Game, the Falcons faced a tough opener as they began the season on the road against their arch rival the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons started the game well, taking a 10-0 lead in the first quarter as Matt Ryan connected with Tony Gonzalez on his first TD of the season. The Saints would answer back with 13 unanswered points in the second quarter, as Julio Jones committed a costly fumble. The game would go back and forth in the second half, as the Saints held on to a 23-17 loss in the final minute with the Falcons driving deep down the field. The Falcons would drive the ball down to the Saints three, but on fourth down Matt Ryan would be picked off in the endzone by Roman Harper. In their home opener the Falcons used the big play to beat the St. Louis Rams 31-24, as Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones on a 81 yard touchdown pass, and Osi Umenyiora returned an interception 68 yards to build a 21-0 lead early in the game. Over the next three games the Falcons season would begin to unravel as they dropped three straight games to the AFC East. Against the Miami Dolphins the Falcons lost a ten point lead, as Dion Sims gave the Dolphins a 27-23 lead with 43 seconds left. Like their Week 1 loss, Matt Ryan would be picked off to end the game. In a 30-23 Sunday Night loss to the New England Patriots at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons would give up 17 points in the fourth quarter as a potential game tying drive stalled at the New England 10 yard line. Against the New York Jets a week later, the Falcons would make a fourth quarter comeback, but left too much time on the clock as Nick Folk won the game 30-28 on a 43 yard Field Goal as time expired. Following a their bye week, the Falcons would beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 as Matt Ryan had three touchdowns, while Thomas DeCoud made an early impact, retuning a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown. However, the Falcons would soon completely unravel losing five straight games, to fall out of playoff contention. Injuries played a big factor as pass rusher Kroy Biermann and receiver Julio Jones were lost for the season. Running Back Steven Jackson, acquired in the off-season from the Rams was expected to add balance to the offence, would manage just 543 yards rushing as he missed four games with a hamstring injury. Jackson’s best game would come in Week 13 as the Falcons ended their losing streak with a 34-31 win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. Steven Jackson had two touchdowns, including one that tied the game late in regulation. There would be no salvaging the Falcons season as they lost agonizing game in the fourth quarter to the Green Bay Packers 22-21. In their final four possessions Matt Ryan fumbled to set up the Packers go ahead score; Matt Bryant missed a 52 yard Field Goal; the Falcons than attempting to get a first down on fourth and five saw Ryan fail to connect with Tony Gonzalez turning the ball over on down; with the game ending on an interception on the final Falcons possession at Lambeau Field. The Falcons would edge the Washington Redskins a week later 27-26, as the Redskins attempting to win the game with a two point try rather than tie the game after scoring with 18 seconds left were turned away. The Falcons would lose their final two games and finish the season with a unspeakably disappointing record of 4-12. The end of the season marked the end of the career of Tony Gonzalez, who retired with many considering him the best Tight End in NFL history. Gonzalez who played 12 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before playing his final five years in Atlanta was the first of the new breed of Tight Ends, who were converted Power Forwards on the basketball court. Tony Gonzalez retired with 111 career touchdowns and 1,325 receptions and 15,127 yards all records among Tight Ends.

2014: Looking to rebound off a terrible season, the Atlanta Falcons kicked off the season at home against the New Orleans Saints. The game would be a back and forth thriller as the Falcons overcame an early 13-0 deficit and forced overtime on a 51 yard Field Goal by Matt Bryant as time expired. In overtime the Falcons took advantage of a fumble from Marques Colston and won the game with another long Bryant Field Goal of 52 yards to win the game 37-34. Highlighting the comeback was QB Matt Ryan with 448 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcons would not be able to build any momentum from their win over the Saints, as Ryan was intercepted three times in a 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Returning home for a Thursday Night Game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Falcons came out ready and fired up as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. The Falcons domination continued in the second, as Devin Hester had two touchdowns, one with a 20 yard run than a 62 yard punt return that made him the NFL’s all-time leading scorer of return touchdowns, breaking the record held by Deion Sanders. The Falcons lead would eventually reach 56-0 before Tampa scored two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 56-14 final. However, once again the Falcons could not build off their big home win as they were beaten by the Minnesota Vikings 41-28, allowing 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. A week later it would be another late game letdown, as the Giants scored 20 unanswered over the final in final 19 minutes to win the game 30-20 at the Meadowlands. Returning home would not be salvation as the Falcons suffered a third straight loss at the hands of the Chicago Bears 27-13. Following a listless 29-7 loss on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, the Falcons jetted off to London to face the Detroit Lions. The Falcons controlled the game most of the day, and held 21-0 halftime lead. However, the Lions would claw their way back and pulled to within two points on a touchdown by Theo Riddick. The Falcons kept it at 21-19 as they turned away the Lions two point try. The Lions would have one more chance to win the game starting at their own seven, they would drive down to the Atlanta 25 and set up Matt Prater for a 43 yard field goal that was no good. However before the kick a penalty was thrown on the Lions which gave them a second chance with a 48 yard Field Goal this time it was good and the Falcons flew home with a bitter 22-21 defeat. Despite being 2-6 at bye week, with five straight losses the Falcons playoff hopes were alive as the entire NFC South had a losing record. The Falcons would get their mojo back after the bye by again beating the Buccaneers 27-17. A week later they would get another big divisional win by beating the Carolina Panthers 19-17 on the road, as Matt Bryant had four Field Goals for the second straight week. Returning home the Falcons suffered the most gut wrenching loss of the season, as they were beaten by the Cleveland Browns 26-24. After trailing most of the game, the Falcons took a 24-23 lead on a 53 Field Goal by Matt Bryant with 44 seconds left. The Browns would quickly move the ball down the field and won the game on a 37 yard kick by Billy Cundiff. The Falcons would rebound with an upset win over the Arizona Cardinals on the road, as they got off to a quick start with 17 points in the first quarter. Despite allowing an 88 yard interception return, the Falcons would get a solid 29-18 win as Bryant had five Field Goals. The Falcons returned home to face the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football and trailed 31-10 before mounting a comeback that fell just short losing 43-37. Following a 27-20 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Falcons kept their hopes of winning the NFC South again as they beat the Saints 30-14 at the Superdome. The win set the Falcons up for a one game show down with the Panthers at the Georgia Dome with the division on the line. The Falcons had won all five games against the NFC South foes coming in, but came out flat and lost 34-3, finishing the season 6-10. Following the game the Falcons would fire Coach Mike Smith.

2015: As the Atlanta Falcons entered their 50th season, they had a new coach in Dan Quinn who had previously been the Defensive Coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, making them the top defense in the National Football League. Things started well for the Falcons as they raced out to a 20-3 halftime lead at the Georgia Dome. The Eagles though would claw their way back in the game, taking the lead in the fourth quarter 24-23. The Falcons would regain the lead on a 47-yard Field Goal by Matt Bryant, as Ricardo Allen picked off Sam Bradford to preserve the 26-24 win. In their first road game it would be the Falcons fighting back in the second half as they trailed the New York Giants 20-10 in the fourth quarter. Matt Ryan connected with Leonard Hankerson on a 10-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter, while Devonta Freeman’s touchdown run with 1:14 left won the game 24-20. The Falcons would fall behind again in Week 3, trailing the Dallas Cowboys 14-0 early in the first quarter. Down 28-17 at the half, the Falcons spurred on by Julio Jones scored 22 unanswered points in the second half to win the game 39-28. The Falcons receiver was an unstoppable force, catching 12 passes for 164 yards with two touchdowns. The Falcons would continue their strong start by dominating the Houston Texans 48-21, as Devonta Freeman led the way with three touchdown runs. Defense would be the name of the game in Week 5 as Matt Ryan struggled against the Washington Redskins. Trailing 16-12 late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons took the lead on six yard run by Freeman with 24 seconds left. The Redskins though would answer as the game went to overtime deadlocked 19-19. In overtime Robert Alford turned into the hero for Atlanta with 59-yard interception return to win the game 25-19. The Falcons would not be as fortunate four days later, as they suffered their first loss of the season in Thursday Night game against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome, falling 31-21. Matt Ryan would struggle again in Week 7, but thanks to a strong defensive effort the Falcons improved to 6-1 with a 10-7 win against the Tennessee Titans. Returning home, the Falcons showed more late magic, rallying from down 20-3 to force overtime against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, it would not be enough as the Bucs won the game in overtime on a 31-yard Connor Barth Field Goal. The loss to Tampa, would send the Falcons into a tailspin as they dropped their next six games, culminating with an embarrassing 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers to all but end their playoff hopes. A big part of the Falcons struggles was Matt Ryan, who had a disappointing season with 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The Falcons losing streak would come to an end in Week 15, as they got two fourth quarter Field Goals from Shayne Graham to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17. A week later, the Falcons would get their most satisfying win of the season as they beat the Panthers 20-13 at the Georgia Dome, handing the Panthers their only loss of the regular season. The star of the game was Julio Jones who had nine catches for 178, highlight by a 70-yard touchdown that gave Atlanta the lead for good in the third quarter. Despite the good feelings from their win over Carolina, the Falcons season would end on a disappointing not as they were beaten a second time by the Saints 20-17, finishing the year with a record of 8-8.

2016: After a disappointing 8-8 season, the Atlanta Falcons looked to gain momentum for their new stadium, as they entered the final year at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons stumbled in their season, opener, losing at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24. The Falcons rebounded a week later to beat the Oakland Raiders on the road, as Matt Ryan passed for 396 yards, with three touchdowns. A week later, they won a Monday Night shootout at the Superdome against the New Orleans 45-32. Ryan again had a big game, passing for 276 yards with a pair of touchdown, while Deion Jones helped put the game away with a 90-yard interception return in the fourth quarter. Returning home, the Falcons won another key division battle as they beat the Carolina Panthers 48-33. In the game Matt Ryan made franchise history, passing for 503 yards with four touchdowns, while Julio Jones had 12 catches for 300 yards. A week later it was the Falcons defense that made the difference as they stunned the Denver Broncos 23-16 at Mile High. Staying out west the Falcons played the Seattle Seahawks a week later, suffering a controversial 26-24 loss. Attempting to get in field goal range late in the game, Matt Ryan threw four straight incomplete passes, one of which was clearly a missed pass interference call against Richard Sherman. Returning home, the Falcons suffered their most frustrating loss of the season against the San Diego Chargers. The Falcons who once had a 27-10 lead would lose the game in overtime 33-30 to drop to 4-3 on the season. The Dirty Birds continued to scuffle at the Georgia Dome a week later, as they trailed the Green Bay Packers 32-26 late in the fourth quarter. In perhaps the biggest drive of the season, Matt Ryan led the Falcons 75 yards in 11 plays to win the game 33-32 as Mohammed Sanu caught an 11-yard pass with 36 seconds left to win the game. Four days later, the Falcons avenged their season opening loss by beating the Buccaneers on the road 43-28 as Matt Ryan continued to put up big numbers, passing for 344 yards with four touchdowns. Ryan would struggle the following week as the Falcons went into the bye week holding a record of 6-4 after a 24-15 loss on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons returned home following the bye and delivered a strong 38-19 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Playing the Kansas City Chiefs at the Georgia Dome in Week 13, the Falcons suffered one of the strangest losses in NFL history. Trailing 27-16 at the start of the fourth quarter, Atlanta began clawing their way back on a touchdown run by Devonta Freeman. After the two-point attempt failed, the Falcons were down by 27-22. The Falcons would take their lead on the next possession as Aldrick Robinson caught a five-yard pass from Matt Ryan. However, attempting to extend the lead to three points, Ryan’s two-point attempt is returned the other way by Eric Berry. This resulted in the Chiefs getting two points and winning the game 29-28. The Falcons would take out their frustrations against the Los Angeles Rams, winning 42-14. The Falcons scored two defensive touchdowns, building a 42-14 lead as the Rams only scores came in the fourth quarter after Atlanta had the game clearly in hand. The Falcons returned home and delivered a similarly commanding performance to beat the San Francisco 49ers 41-13. The Falcons continued their late surge a week later to clinch the division title with a 33-16 win over the Panthers. The Falcons would close the season with a 38-32 win over the Saints at home. The Falcons finished the season with a record of 11-5 to take the second seed in the NFC Playoffs. For Matt Ryan, it would be a career season as he passed for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions to earn Offensive Player of the Year and MVP honors. Atlanta also got a big season from Julio Jones who passed for 1,409 yards with six touchdowns, while Devonta Freeman was the leading rusher at 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns.

2016 Playoffs: Facing the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round, the Atlanta Falcons took control of the game with 19 points in the second quarter as Matt Ryan engineered a nine-play 99-yard drive, which was capped by a 14-yard pass to Tevin Coleman to give the Falcons a 19-10 lead at the half. Ryan would pass for 338 yards, with three touchdowns. The Falcons began the second half just as strong as Devonta Freeman capped 13-play 75-yard drive with a one-yard run to give Atlanta a 26-10 lead. The Falcons would go on to win the game 36-20. The Falcons would get one more home game after the Green Bay Packers upset the Dallas Cowboys a day later, meaning the final game ever at the Georgia Dome would be for a trip to Super Bowl LI. Facing the Green Bay Packers, the Falcons jumped out to a 24-0 lead, as Matt Ryan had a pair of touchdowns passes and a 14-yard run. The Falcons continued to dominate, in the third quarter as Ryan connected with Julio Jones on a 73-yard play to make it 31-0. Matt Ryan finished the game with 392 yards and four scores, while Jones had a pair of touchdowns with nine catches for 180 yards as the Falcons won their second NFC Championship by a score of 44-21.

Super Bowl LI: Hearing into Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, the Atlanta Falcons were the underdog facing the New England Patriots. Early on things looked good for the Falcons as they scored the game’s first points as Devonta Freeman ran for five yards early in the second quarter following a scoreless first quarter. The Falcons added to their lead on the next possession as Matt Hooper caught a 19-yard pass from Matt Ryan to make it 14-0. The lead would balloon to 21-0 when Robert Alford returned a Tom Brady interception 82 yards to make of Atlanta delirious. The Patriots would get a Stephen Gostkowski Field Goal before the half, but the Falcons remained in firm control of the game as they extended the lead to 28-3 on a six-yard pass from Ryan to Tevin Coleman. Everything seemed to be going Atlanta’s way as they held a commanding 25-point lead while Tom Brady struggled through the first two quarters. Even when the Patriots scored late in the third quarter, Stephen Gostkowski missed the PAT. Leading 28-9 as the fourth quarter began the Falcons began anticipating the end of the game while failing to realize there were another 15 minutes to be played. The Patriots continued to chip away as Stephen Gostkowski hit a 33-yard Field Goal, with 9:44 left. Still leading 28-12, the Falcons just needed to play smart football to win the game, but they opened the door when Matt Ryan made his first mistake of the game, losing the ball on a sack by Dont’a Hightower. The Patriots would quickly take advantage scoring a touchdown with a two-point conversion to make it a one score game. Still, the Falcons just need to run out the clock or take as much off the clock as possible to win the Lombardi Trophy. Things looked good when Julio Jones made a spectacular catch at the New England 22-yard line. However, from their the Falcons offense faltered, taking as Matt Ryan took a 12-yard loss on a sack, while a drive saving catch was negated by a holding call to push the ball out of field goal range. The Patriots given new life drove down the field and tied the game, once again making a successful two-point conversion. The stunned Falcons were unable to do anything with the ball in the final minute as the game went to overtime. It was the first time a Super Bowl went to overtime, and the reeling Falcons knew they need to get the ball to have a chance. However, the Patriots won the toss and quickly marched down the field to win the game 34-28 as the Falcons defense was spent. It was the first time ever a team with such a lead lost the Super Bowl, and while Tom Brady and James White heroics helped the Patriots win. The Falcons only have themselves to blame as they did not do enough to bleed the clock and made too many poor decisions in the fourth quarter to name just one as the back breaker.

2017: The Atlanta Falcons had to live through the off-season replaying the end of Super Bowl LI over and over again, as they let a 28-3 lead disappear. The Falcons were starting the season with two new coordinators as Kyle Shanahan who led the offense left to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, while Richard Smith who led the defense was dismissed. Hoping to get another shot at winning a Lombardi Trophy the Falcons started the season on the road with a 23-17 win over the Chicago Bears. A week later, the Falcons hosted the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Football in the first official game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The new nesting place for the Falcons was a retractable roof stadium, opening like a flower. For the first game, the roof was open, as Devonta Freeman scored the first touchdown. Freeman added a second score as the Falcons won the game 34-23. The Falcons good start continued in Detroit as they beat the Lions 30-26, despite Matt Ryan having a shaky game, with three interceptions. Returning home Ryan struggled again, as the Falcons suffered their first loss of the season against the Buffalo Bills 23-17. After the bye week, the Falcons suffered a second straight home loss, blowing a 17-0 halftime lead as they were beaten by the Miami Dolphins 23-17. Perhaps the Falcons were looking past the Dolphins to a Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. It was a foggy night in Foxboro, but those 28-3 flags and shirts from Barstool Sports seemed to come in clear. The Falcons meanwhile appeared to be in a daze as they suffered a third straight loss 23-7. The Falcons continued to run the AFC gauntlet in Week 8 with a game against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. Atlanta’s struggles continued as the Jets held the lead until the fourth quarter when Matt Ryan connected with Mohammed Sanu for the go-ahead score, on the way to a 25-20 win. A week later on the road against the Carolina Panthers, the Falcons again looked good early scoring ten points in the first quarter. However, they managed just one touchdown the rest of the way as they lost again 20-17. Returning home in Week 10, the Falcons relied on their defense to get back on track as Adrian Claborn set a team record with six sacks of Dak Prescott as the Falcons smothered the Dallas Cowboys 27-7. Claborn was key again the following week, returning a fumble for a touchdown as the Falcons stunned the Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in front of the 12thman. Week 12 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was the Julio Jones show, as the Falcons star receiver caught 12 passes for 253 with two touchdowns, one of which was a 51-yard toss from Mohammed Sanu. The Falcons though could not carry on the momentum as their offense bogged down in Week 13 in a 14-9 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. With their playoff hopes on the brink, the Falcons rallied to beat the New Orleans Saints 20-17 on Thursday Night Football. In the game, the Falcons scored ten unanswered points in the fourth quarter as Matt Ryan connected with Sanu on a game-tying touchdown, while the ageless Matt Bryant won the game with a 52-yard field goal. The Falcons made it to 9-5 on Monday Night Football with a 24-21 win over the Buccaneers as Devonta Freeman accounted for 194 yards from scrimmage. Christmas tidings were not to be found in Week 16 as they made their annual trip to the Superdome and suffered a 23-13 loss to the Saints. Needing a win at home in the final game of the season to get into the playoffs, the Falcons kicked their way to victory, as Bryant had five second-half field goals to win the game 22-10. With the win, the Falcons grabbed the sixth seed with a record of 10-6. Matt Ryan followed up his MVP by passing for 4,095 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while Julio Jones had 1,444 yards on 88 catches, but only had three touchdowns.

2017 NFL Playoffs: In the playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons faced the Los Angeles Rams in the first postseason game at the Coliseum in over 20 years. The Falcons defense and experience were key early, as they built a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. The Rams got on track late in the first half and cut the lead to 13-10 before halftime. However, in the third quarter, the Falcons defense regained control of the game, as Matt Bryant hit two more field goals, including one from 54 yards to extend the lead to 19-10. After a Sam Ficken field goal cut the lead to six points, the Falcons got a nice long drive to seal the win as Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones on an eight-yard touchdown pass to make the final score 26-13. After their impressive win over the Rams, the Falcons were listed as road favorite as they faced the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Playoff Round. Early on things looked good for Atlanta, Matt Bryant opened the scoring with a 33-yard field goal as the Falcons defense stymied the Eagles as Ricardo Allen stopped an early Philadelphia drive by forcing a fumble by Jay Ajayi. The Eagles though would get on track with a LeGarrette Blount touchdown early in the second quarter, missing the extra point to make it 6-3. The Falcons would answer the score with a Devonta Freeman touchdown as the Eagles got a field goal from Jake Elliott before the end of the first half. Leading 10-9, the Falcons offense ground to a halt in the second half as Elliott with two field goals, put Philadelphia in front 15-10. With time running out the Falcons began a drive on their own nine-yard line and methodically worked the ball down the field. With 1:05 left, the Falcons worked the ball down to the Eagles two-yard line, but faced fourth and goal. Needing to convert Matt Ryan looked for Julio Jones in the end zone, but with Jalen Mills providing coverage Jones could not come down with the ball as the Eagles won the game 15-10.

©MMXVIII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Football League. This site is not affiliated with the Atlanta Falcons or the NFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on July 15 , 2002. Last updated on August 30, 2018 at 11:50 pm ET.