|Established June 30, 1965
First season: 1966
Play in Mercedes-Benz Stadium (projected)
Headquartered in Flowery Branch, Georgia
|General manager||Thomas Dimitroff|
|Head coach||Dan Quinn|
|The Dirty Birds, Grits Blitz (1977 defense)|
|League championships (0)
Conference championships (2)
Division championships (6)
|Playoff appearances (13)|
The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Falcons compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) South division. The Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team, after the NFL offered then-owner Rankin Smith a franchise to keep him from joining the rival American Football League (AFL). The AFL instead granted a franchise to Miami (the Miami Dolphins). The Falcons are tied with the Dolphins (who also began play in 1966) for being the second-oldest NFL franchise in the Deep South, and are the second-oldest NFC team in that region, after the Dallas Cowboys.
In their 51 years of existence, the Falcons have compiled a record of 350–450–6 (341–437–6 in the regular season and 9–13 in the playoffs), winning division championships in 1980, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2012, and 2016. With their win over the Green Bay Packers on January 22, 2017, the Falcons made their second Super Bowl appearance; the first being during the 1998 season in Super Bowl XXXIII, where they lost to the Denver Broncos 34–19., and the most recent being a defeat by the New England Patriots 34–28 in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The Falcons played their home games at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta from the 1992 to 2016 NFL seasons. Construction began on Mercedes-Benz Stadium in May 2014, with play projected to begin there during the 2017 season. Their headquarters and practice facilities are located at a 50-acre site in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
- 1 Franchise history
- 1.1 1966–1977: Early struggles
- 1.2 1978–1989
- 1.3 1989–1996
- 1.4 1997–2000: The Dan Reeves era
- 1.5 2001–2006: The Michael Vick era
- 1.6 2007
- 1.7 2008–2014: The Mike Smith era
- 1.8 2015–present: The Dan Quinn era
- 2 Stadiums
- 3 Logo and uniforms
- 4 Rivalries
- 5 Statistics
- 6 Players
- 7 Coaching staff
- 8 Radio and television
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes and references
- 11 External links
Professional football first came to Atlanta in 1962, when the American Football League staged two preseason contests, with one featuring the Denver Broncos vs. the Houston Oilers and the second pitting the Dallas Texans against the Oakland Raiders. Two years later, the AFL held another exhibition, this time with the New York Jets taking on the San Diego Chargers.
In 1965, after the Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium was built, the city of Atlanta felt the time was right to start pursuing professional football. One independent group which had been active in NFL exhibition promotions in Atlanta applied for franchises in both the American Football League and the National Football League, acting entirely on its own with no guarantee of stadium rights. Another group reported it had deposited earnest money for a team in the AFL.
With everyone running in different directions, some local businessmen worked out a deal and were awarded an AFL franchise on June 7, 1965, contingent upon acquiring exclusive stadium rights from city officials. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who had been moving slowly in Atlanta matters, was spurred by the AFL interest and headed on the next plane down to Atlanta to block the rival league's claim on the city of Atlanta. He forced the city to make a choice between the two leagues. By June 30, the city picked Rankin Smith and the NFL.
The Atlanta Falcons franchise began on June 30, 1965, when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership to 41-year-old Rankin Smith Sr.. Smith an Executive Vice President of Life Insurance Company of Georgia at the time, paid $8.5 million the highest price in NFL history at the time for a franchise. Former commissioner Pete Rozelle and Smith made the deal in about five minutes and the Atlanta Falcons brought the largest and most popular sport to the city of Atlanta. The Atlanta expansion franchise became the 15th NFL franchise, and they were awarded the first pick in the 1966 NFL draft as well as the final pick in each of the first five rounds. The Falcons drafted All-American linebacker Tommy Nobis from the University of Texas with the first pick of the draft, making him the first-ever Falcon. The league also held the 1966 NFL Expansion Draft six weeks later in which the Falcons selected unprotected players from existing franchises. Although the Falcons selected many good players in those drafts, they still were not able to win right away.
The Atlanta Falcons Football Club received its nickname on August 29, 1965. Miss Julia Elliott, a school teacher from Griffin, Georgia, was singled out from many people who suggested "Falcons" as the nickname for the new franchise. Elliott wrote: "the Falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It is deadly and has a great sporting tradition."
1966–1977: Early struggles
The Falcons had their first season in 1966, and their first preseason game on August 1, 1966, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. Under Head Coach Norb Hecker they lost their first nine regular-season games in 1966 and secured their first victory on the road against the New York Giants. The team finished the 1960s with only 12 wins. The Falcons had their first Monday Night Football game in Atlanta during the 1970 season. The only two winning seasons in this twelve-year period were 1971 and 1973.
In the 1978 season, the Falcons qualified for the playoffs for the first time and won the Wild Card game against the Eagles 14–13. The following week, they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27–20 in the Divisional Playoffs.
In the 1980 season, after a nine-game winning streak, the Falcons posted a franchise then-best record of 12–4 and captured their first NFC West division title. The next week, their dream season ended at home with a loss to the Cowboys 30–27 in the divisional playoffs. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Falcons made the playoffs but lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 30–24. Falcons coach Leeman Bennett was fired after the loss. The team would then have losing seasons for the next eight years.
In 1989, the Falcons drafted cornerback Deion Sanders in the first round, who helped them for the next four years, setting many records for the franchise. "Neon Deion" (a.k.a. "Prime Time") had a flashy appeal and helped bring media attention to one of the league's most anonymous franchises. Sanders was also famous for playing on major league baseball teams (the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves) while simultaneously playing in the NFL.
After defeating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card game, the Falcons' 1991 season ended in a divisional playoff loss to the Washington Redskins. In 1991, the Falcons drafted Brett Favre as the thirty-third overall pick. During his rookie season, he played in two games where he amassed a record of 4 passing attempts with 0 receptions and 2 interceptions. The following February, Favre was traded to the Green Bay Packers.
In 1992, the Atlanta Falcons opened a new chapter in their history moving into the newly constructed Georgia Dome, where the team has defeated all 31 other NFL teams at least once since its opening.
1997–2000: The Dan Reeves era
In 1998, under recently acquired head coach Dan Reeves, quarterback Chris Chandler and running back Jamal Anderson the "Dirty Bird" Falcons had their greatest season to date. On November 8, they beat the New England Patriots 41–10, ending a streak of 22 losses at cold-weather sites. The team finished with a franchise-best 14–2 regular season record and the NFC West division championship. On January 17, 1999, the Falcons upset the top-seeded Minnesota Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in the NFC Championship Game 30–27, in an exciting overtime victory. However, in their first-ever Super Bowl appearance, they lost 34–19 to the defending champion Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.
In the second game of the Falcons 1999 season, running back Jamal Anderson, who had been a key player in the Falcons' 1998 success, suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Falcons finished the season with a very disappointing 5–11 regular season record. In 2000, the Falcons suffered through another horrendous season finishing 4–12 and once again missing the playoffs.
2001–2006: The Michael Vick era
In the 2001 NFL draft, the Falcons orchestrated a trade with the San Diego Chargers, acquiring the first overall pick (which was used on quarterback Michael Vick) in exchange for wide receiver / return specialist Tim Dwight and the fifth overall pick (used on running back LaDainian Tomlinson).
The Falcons finished the 2001 season with a record of 7–9 and missed the playoffs. Jessie Tuggle retired following 14 seasons in Atlanta. On December 6, 2001, Arthur M. Blank reached a preliminary agreement with the Falcons' Taylor Smith to purchase the team. In a special meeting prior to Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans on February 2, 2002, NFL owners voted unanimously to approve the purchase.
The 2002 season saw the Falcons return to the playoffs with a regular season record of 9–6–1, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers in a heated contest. It was Michael Vick's first year as the starter, and the team, with newly acquired running back Warrick Dunn, delivered the Green Bay Packers their first home playoff loss ever. A 20-6 loss to the Donovan McNabb-led Philadelphia Eagles the following week, however, ended the Falcons season.
On March 19, 2003, the Falcons presented their new logo. During the 2003 preseason Michael Vick broke his leg and missed the first twelve games of the season. After losing 7 straight games, the decision was made to release head coach Dan Reeves. Wade Phillips acted as interim coach for the final 3 games. Although the Falcons won 3 of their last 4 games after the return of Michael Vick, they ended up with a dismal 5–11 record that year. In 2004, a new head coach, Jim L. Mora, was hired and Michael Vick returned for the full season. The Falcons went 11–5, winning their third division title and earning a first-round bye into the playoffs. In the divisional playoffs, the Falcons defeated the St. Louis Rams 47–17 in the Georgia Dome, advancing to the NFC Championship Game, which they lost to the Eagles 27–10.
The Falcons again fell short of achieving back-to-back winning seasons in 2005, going 8–8. In 2006, Michael Vick became the first quarterback in league history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, with 1,039. After finishing the season 7–9, however, coach Jim Mora was dismissed and Bobby Petrino, the University of Louisville's football coach, replaced him. Before the 2007 season began, Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after pleading guilty to charges involving dog fighting in the state of Virginia. On December 10, 2007, Vick received a 23-month prison sentence and was officially cut from the Atlanta roster.
For the 2007 season, the Falcons were forced to start Joey Harrington at quarterback. On December 11, 13 games into his first NFL season as head coach, Bobby Petrino resigned without notice to coach at the University of Arkansas, leaving the beleaguered players only a note in the locker room. Secondary Coach Emmitt Thomas was named interim coach for the final three games of the season on December 12. The Falcons ended the year with a dismal 4–12 record.
2008–2014: The Mike Smith era
After the tumultuous and disappointing 2007 season, the Falcons made a number of moves, hiring a new General Manager and head coach, drafting a new starting quarterback, and signing a starting running back.
On January 13, 2008, the Falcons named former Patriots director of college football scouting Thomas Dimitroff General Manager. On January 23, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coach and former linebackers coach for the 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens Mike Smith was named the Falcons' new head coach. Chargers back-up RB Michael Turner agreed to a 6-year deal, $30 million deal on March 2. On April 26, Matt Ryan (quarterback from Boston College) was drafted third overall in the 2008 NFL draft by the Falcons.
The Falcons finished the 2008 regular season with a record of 11–5, and the #5 seat in the playoffs. On December 21, 2008, Atlanta beat the Minnesota Vikings 24–17 to clinch a wild card spot, earning a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Falcons would go on to lose in the wild-card round of the 2008 NFL playoffs to the eventual NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, 30–24.
Matt Ryan started all 16 games in his rookie season and was named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year. First-year head coach Mike Smith was named 2008 NFL Coach of the Year.
Although they failed to make the playoffs in 2009 the team rallied to win their final three regular season games to record back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. The Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20–10 in the final game of the season to improve their record to 9–7.
In 2010, with a regular season record of 13–3, their best regular season record since the 1998 season, the Falcons secured a third straight winning season, their fourth overall divisional title, and the top overall seed in the NFC playoffs; however, the Falcons were overpowered by the eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs 48–21. The Falcons scored 414 points – the fifth-most in franchise history. The Falcons 2010 team sent an NFL-high and franchise-best nine players to the 2011 Pro Bowl.
The Falcons made a surprise trade up with the Cleveland Browns in the 2011 NFL draft to select Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones sixth overall. In exchange, the Falcons gave up their first-, second- and fourth-round draft picks in 2011, and their first and fourth draft picks in 2012. Jones, along with teammates Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White, have since been dubbed Atlanta's "Big Three" (based on their total number of reception yards). On August 30, 2011, Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King, who correctly predicted the 2011 Super Bowl, made his predictions for the 2011 season and picked the Falcons to defeat the San Diego Chargers in the 2012 Super Bowl. The Falcons finished the season at 10–6, securing the fifth seed after a Week 17 beatdown of Tampa Bay in which the Falcons pulled their starters after leading 42–0 just 23 minutes into the game.
The Falcons then went on to play the New York Giants in a 2011 NFC Wild Card Game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The first half was a defensive struggle, with the first points coming off of a safety by the Falcons, giving Atlanta a 2–0 lead. In the 2nd quarter, though, Eli Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks for a short touchdown pass to make it 7–2 Giants heading into the 2nd half. Then the Giants took control, as Manning threw for two more TD passes to Mario Manningham and Nicks and the defense completed its shutout of the Falcons to give the New York Giants the win, 24–2, and the Falcons their third straight playoff loss with Matt Ryan and Mike Smith. After the season Defense Coordinator Brian VanGorder accepted a coaching job at Auburn University, and the offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey took the head coaching job in Jacksonville.
Atlanta exploded out of the gate, going a franchise best 8–0 and remaining the last unbeaten team in the NFL that year. Their hopes to get an undefeated season came to an end with a 27–31 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Julio Jones had a remarkable second year, grabbing 10 touchdowns and 1,198 yards. The Falcons finished the season 13–3, and clinched the number one seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Falcons played the Seattle Seahawks in their first playoff game. Although they went down 28–27 with only 31 seconds left on the clock, Matt Ryan led the team to their first playoff victory, 30–28. It was the only playoff victory in the Mike Smith era.
The Atlanta Falcons then advanced to face the San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons seized control of the game early with a Matt Bryant field goal, a trio of Matt Ryan touchdown passes caught by Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez coupled with outstanding defensive play. By the end of the half, the score was 24–14.The tides of the game began to shift in the second half as the 49ers rallied back with a pair of Frank Gore touchdown runs. Atlanta's offense attempted to reply but were ultimately shut down by the 49er defense. A few series later, late in the 4th quarter with little time remaining, Atlanta found themselves in a 4th and 4 situation at the 10-yard line. The Falcons needed just 10 more yards to secure victory and advance to their first Super Bowl berth in nearly 15 years. Matt Ryan fired a pass to Roddy White which was ultimately broken up by inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, resulting in a 28–24 defeat.
Following the success of the previous season, the Falcons were an expected Super Bowl contender. However, injuries hampered the team's performance and the team finished the season 4–12. With that, the streak of consecutive winning seasons came to an end and Mike Smith had his first losing season as a head coach. Tony Gonzalez, in his final season in the NFL, was selected to the 2014 Pro Bowl as a starter representing Team Rice. Following the conclusion of the 2012 season, director of player personnel Les Snead departed the team to join the St. Louis Rams and Dave Caldwell, assistant to general manager Thomas Dimitroff, left the team to join the Jacksonville Jaguars. Scott Pioli, former GM of the New England Patriots, was announced as the Falcons' new assistant GM. Mike Smith was given a one-year extension on his contract as head coach. The Falcons had the 6th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft with which they selected Jake Matthews, who played as offensive tackle for Texas A&M.
Despite having another rough season, the Falcons still had an opportunity to qualify for the playoffs at the end of the regular season. The Falcons hosted the Carolina Panthers in their regular season finale, with the winners clinching the NFC South division. Unfortunately, the Falcons lost in a 34–3 blowout as Matt Ryan threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and got sacked six times. The Falcons finished the season 6–10, marking the second consecutive losing season for the team. The following day, Mike Smith was fired after seven seasons as head coach. The Falcons would soon hire Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as the team's 16th head coach. The Falcons had the 8th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft with which they selected Vic Beasley, a defensive end from Clemson University.
2015–present: The Dan Quinn era
In February 2015, the team was investigated by the NFL for alleged use of artificial crowd noise in the Georgia Dome. The Falcons lost a 2016 NFL Draft selection as a result of the league's investigation.
Dan Quinn's first season saw a 5–0 start, the team's best start in four years. They would then struggle throughout the rest of the season by losing 8 of their last 11 games, resulting in an 8–8 record. They did, however, give the Carolina Panthers their only regular season loss. The Falcons used their first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on safety Keanu Neal from the University of Florida.
In the Falcons' 25th and final season in the Georgia Dome, Atlanta lost their Week 1 game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24–31. The Falcons would then win their next four including one over the Carolina Panthers, when the franchise set new records. Matt Ryan threw for 503 yards, and Julio Jones caught twelve passes for 300 yards. With a 41–13 thrashing of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15, the Falcons improved to 9–5 and secured their first winning season since 2012. One week later, the Falcons defeated the Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina and clinched their first NFC South division title since 2012. In their last regular season game at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints, and secured an 11–5 record and a first round bye.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, Atlanta defeated the Seattle Seahawks 36–20 in the Georgia Dome, and hosted their last game at the Dome against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on January 22, 2017. The Falcons defeated the Packers 44–21 to advance to Super Bowl LI as the NFC champions, where they were defeated 34–28 by the New England Patriots in the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. The Patriots' 25-point comeback was the largest in Super Bowl history.
In 2016, the Falcons scored 540 points in the regular season, the seventh-most in NFL history, tied with the Greatest Show on Turf (the 2000 St. Louis Rams). However, the Falcons defense gave up 406 points, 27th in the league.
The Falcons have called only two stadiums home in their 51 years of existence, and will have a third home in their history in the late summer of 2017. The first was the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, sharing with the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team until 1991. In 1992, the Georgia Dome was built, and the Falcons played there from its opening to the 2016 season. The Dome has been frequently used for college football, including Georgia State football and college bowl games such as the Peach Bowl.
In an effort to replace the aging Georgia Dome and potentially host a future Super Bowl, team owner Arthur Blank proposed a deal with the city of Atlanta to build a new state-of-the-art stadium not far from where the Georgia Dome is located. Blank will contribute $800 million and the city of Atlanta will contribute an additional $200 million via bonds backed by the city's hotel/motel tax towards the construction of a retractable roof stadium. Blank will contribute additional money for cost overruns if it is needed. The team will provide up to $50 million towards infrastructure costs that weren't included in the construction budget and to retire the remaining debt on the Georgia Dome. In addition, Blank's foundation and the city will each provide $15 million for development in surrounding neighborhoods. Though the total cost of the stadium was initially estimated to be around $1 billion, the total cost is now projected to be $1.5 billion according to Blank. In March 2013, the Atlanta City Council voted 11–4 in favor of building the stadium. The retractable roof Mercedes-Benz Stadium broke ground in May 2014, and will begin hosting the Falcons' and Atlanta United's Major League Soccer games in 2017.
Logo and uniforms
When the team debuted in 1966, the Falcons wore red helmets with a black falcon crest logo. In the center of the helmet was a center black stripe surrounded by two gold stripes and two white stripes. These colors represented the two college rival schools in the state of Georgia; rival schools Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (White and Gold) and the Georgia Bulldogs (Red and Black). Although the gold was later taken out, the white remains to this day. They wore white pants and either black or white jerseys. At first, the falcon crest logo was also put on the jersey sleeves, but it was replaced by a red and white stripe pattern four years later. They switched from black to red jerseys in 1971, and the club began to wear silver pants in 1978.
A prototype white helmet was developed for the team prior to the 1974 season but was never worn.
In 1990, the uniform design changed to black helmets, silver pants, and either black or white jerseys. The numbers on the white jerseys were black, but were changed to red in 1997. (The red numerals could be seen on the away jerseys briefly in 1990.)
Both the logo and uniforms changed in 2003. The logo was redesigned with red and silver accents to depict a more powerful, aggressive falcon, which now more closely resembles the capital letter F.
Although the Falcons still wore black helmets, the new uniforms featured jerseys and pants with red trim down the sides. The uniform design consisted of either black or white jerseys, and either black or white pants. During that same year, a red alternate jersey with black trim was also introduced. The Falcons also started wearing black cleats with these uniforms.
In 2004, the red jerseys became the primary jerseys, and the black ones became the alternate, both worn with white pants. In select road games, the Falcons wear black pants with white jerseys. The Falcons wore an all-black combination for home games against their archrivals, the New Orleans Saints, winning the first two contests (24–21 in 2004 and 36–17 in 2005), but losing 31–13 in 2006. The Falcons wore the all black combination against the New Orleans Saints for four straight seasons starting in 2004, With the last time being in 2007, losing 34–14. They wore the combination again in 2006, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. The Falcons won that game, 14–3. The Falcons also wore their all-black uniform in 2007 against the New York Giants, and in 2008 against the Carolina Panthers and against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (for the second time).
In the 1980s, the Falcons wore their white uniforms at home most of the time because of the heat. When the Falcons started playing in a dome, the team switched to their dark uniforms for home games but have worn their white uniforms at home a few times since switching to the dome. It was announced at the 2009 state of the franchise meeting that the Falcons would wear 1966 throwback uniforms for a couple games during the 2009 season. The Atlanta Falcons wore 1966 throwback jerseys for two home games in 2009 – against the Carolina Panthers on September 20 and against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 29. The Falcons won both of those games. They donned the throwbacks again for 2 games in 2010, against Baltimore and San Francisco, winning both of those games as well.
New Orleans Saints
In every season except for their debut season, the Falcons have shared a division with the New Orleans Saints. Over this time, a heated rivalry has developed between the two cities' franchises. Atlanta leads the series 51-45.
- The first time that the Saints made an appearance in the city of New Orleans was on September 9, 1967, in a pre-season game against Atlanta; the Saints won, 27–14. The two teams continued to play yearly in the pre-season until they became divisional opponents. A notable exception was on August 11, 1984, when the Saints took a 31–21 victory in New Orleans.
- The rivalry first truly began to heat up when the two teams became divisional opponents in 1970, allowing them to play twice per season. Despite being located east of the Mississippi River, both relatively new expansion teams were placed in the National Football Conference's Western Division that year – a tough division that would often leave the two teams battling it out with each other just to stay out of last place. Atlanta's 62-7 victory at Tulane Stadium in 1973 remains the most lopsided loss in Saints history. (Coincidentally, the Saints were involved in the only other 62-7 final in an NFL regular season game, crushing the Indianapolis Colts at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 23, 2011.)
- A pair of consecutive last-minute wins by Atlanta in 1978 with playoff implicauhelped to intensify the rivalry even further. With the Falcons down 17-13 in a late-season matchup at the Superdome and only :19 left on the clock, Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski aired a Hail Mary (called in the playbook "Big Ben Right") down to the endzone; the ball was tipped by Falcons reveiver Wallace Francis into the hands of his teammate Alfred Jackson, giving the Falcons a 20-17 victory. The teams met again two weeks later in Atlanta. Once again, the Falcons trailed 17-13, with only :53 on the clock and on their own 28-yard line; Bartkowski led the team down the field and scored with only five seconds left, stunning the Saints for the second time in 3 weeks and propelling the Falcons to their very first wild-card playoff berth: the Falcons finished 9-7, while the Saints finished 7-9; the two last second victories had decided the final playoff slot.
- The only postseason meeting to date in the Falcons–Saints rivalry was played in the Wild Card playoff round on December 28, 1991, at the Superdome. The Saints entered the 1991 playoffs as the NFC West champions while the Falcons were a Wild Card team. Atlanta won the game on the road, 27-20, as Falcons quarterback Chris Miller threw the game-winning 61-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Haynes with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter. To add insult to injury, Haynes was a New Orleans native
- In the midst of New Orleans' troubled 2005 season in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they suffered a loss at San Antonio to the Falcons on October 16. The Saints raced to a 10-3 lead in the second quarter before a fumble was returned by DeAngelo Hall of the Falcons for a 66-yard touchdown and a tie game. On the final play of the second quarter, the Falcons blocked a field goal try and Demorrio Williams ran back a 59-yard touchdown. An exchange of six touchdowns ensued and Devery Henderson caught a 15-yard game-tying score, leaving the game 31-31 in the final minute of regulation. A penalty on the Saints helped the Falcons set up Todd Peterson's 36-yard field goal on the final play, ending a 34-31 Falcons win. Saints coach Jim Haslett was so angry over the late penalty that he repeatedly ripped the "chickenshit" calls by referee Bill Carollo and his crew.
- The Falcons were the opponent in the Saints' first game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, held on September 25, 2006. The Saints won the nationally televised match 23–3; the game was the highest-rated program in the history of ESPN and the second-highest-rated cable program of all time. Early in the first quarter, Saints safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt by Falcons kicker Michael Koenen and Curtis Deloatch recovered the ball in the Falcons' end zone for a Saints touchdown. It was the first score in the Saints' first game in New Orleans in nearly 21 months, during which time Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city and the team. The Saints dominated the game and went on to have the most successful season in their history up to that time. In July 2012, "Rebirth", a statue depicting Gleason blocking the punt, was erected outside the Superdome; a news report commented that the blocked punt "etched Steve Gleason into Saints lore and became symbolic of New Orleans' resilience in the face of disaster".
- The Falcons hosted the Saints on November 26, 2006, at the Georgia Dome. Michael Vick rushed for 166 yards but threw for only 84 yards while Drew Brees of the Saints threw for 349 yards (a week after a 510-yard performance against the Cincinnati Bengals), including a 48-yard heave to Terrance Copper caught in heavy traffic in the Falcons end zone for a Saints touchdown. The Saints routed the Falcons 31–13, and after the game, Vick flashed an obscene gesture to booing Falcons fans.
- The Saints were on a quest for an undefeated season in 2009 when, on November 2, they hosted the Falcons on Monday Night Football. Atlanta led 14-7 after one quarter; New Orleans then erupted with 21 second-quarter points and held off a late Atlanta comeback effort when a Darren Sharper intercepted a Matt Ryan pass at the Saints 5, ending a 35-27 Saints win. The win raised New Orleans to a 13-0 record; the Saints then dropped their last 3 regular season games before sweeping through the playoffs on their way to winning the Super Bowl.
- In the 2010 season, both games had important implications for the playoff race. The Falcons won a week 3 matchup at the Superdome 27-24 in overtime (after Saints kicker Garrett Hartley made a last-second field goal to tie the game in regulation, but then missed another kick that would have won it in overtime). The win gave Atlanta an advantage in the standings which Falcons retained all season. In the Week 16 rematch, the teams met for the fifth time in six seasons on Monday Night Football, with the NFC South title still on the line; in a typically close game the Saints held on for a 17-14 win, clinching a playoff berth. (The Falcons won the following week to earn the top seed in the NFC; both teams then were then upset in their opening playoff games, New Orleans losing to the underdog Seattle Seahawks 41-36 in the wild-card round, while Atlanta was routed by the eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers in the divisional round 48-21.)
- In the 2011 season, both teams met again for a Monday Night Football matchup. Like the previous season, playoff implications were at stake for both teams, however, in a near-inverse of the 2010 meeting, New Orleans, entered Week 16 with an 11-3 record with a playoff berth already clinched, were in better position to win the NFC South division title, and needed a win in one of their final two games or an Atlanta loss in one of their final two games to clinch the division title, while Atlanta, entering Week 16 with a 9-5 record, needed to win out as well as for New Orleans to lose against Carolina in Week 17 to repeat as NFC South champions. A major historical aspect of this game was Saint Drew Brees' pursuit of Dan Marino's single season record for passing yards, 5084, set in 1984. Entering the game with 4780 yards, Brees needed only 305 in his final two games to obtain the record. Atlanta received the opening kickoff and quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead but the Saints immediately responded with an 84-yard touchdown drive sparked by Brees' 38-yard completion to Lance Moore on the drive's first play. Brees would end the first quarter with 66 yards. By halftime, Brees was within 75 yards of the record with 230 yards in the first half, thanks in large part to the 164 yards he notched in the second quarter, which lifted the Saints to a 21-10 lead. Despite only having 45 yards in the third quarter, Brees managed to help the Saints extend their lead to 31-13 and he entered the fourth quarter 30 yards shy of Marino's record. The fourth quarter was somewhat atypical of how the Saints had played during the first three quarters in that they punted for the first time in the game and were held to a three-and-out for the third straight possession dating back to the third quarter when they had to settle for a field goal after failing to get a first down following Darren Sproles' 92-yard kickoff return which set them up with excellent field position at the Atlanta 14-yard line. Continuing the breaking of trends was the Saints' defense, which came into the game having forced the fewest turnovers of any defense in the league. That improved when linebacker Scott Shanle stripped the football from Falcons' wide receiver Julio Jones at the Falcons' 35-yard line and Saints' free safety Malcolm Jenkins grabbed the ball bouncing off the turf in stride and ran 30 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, extending the lead to 38-16. With zero completions or yards through the Saints' first two fourth-quarter possessions, it appeared uncertain if Brees would be able to get the record in front of a national audience in prime time but after the Saints' defense succeeded in stopping the Falcons on fourth down for the second straight possession and having taken over at the Falcons' 32-yard line with Brees needing just 30 for the record, the stage was set for history. On the ensuing drive, Brees completed a 12-yard pass to Marques Colston and an 11-yarder to Devery Henderson, coming to within 7 yards of the record. After an incomplete pass on first and goal from the Falcons' 9-yard line, Brees connected with running back Darren Sproles at the 1-yard line by the left hash mark and he carried it into the end zone, completing the quest for the record with Brees at 5087 yards through 15 games and capping off the scoring for the game with the Saints winning 45–16 and clinching the NFC South division title, their third since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006 and fifth in franchise history. Brees ended the night completing 23 of his 39 passing attempts for 307 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions; it was also his 12th game of the season with at least 300 yards passing, an NFL record.
- In 2012, the Saints struggled through a down year after incurring heavy league penalties from their bounty scandal, but the Saints still managed to hand the Falcons their first loss of the season, 31–27 at the Superdome in week 10. Three weeks later, airport workers in Atlanta egged the Saints' charter bus when the Saints arrived in Atlanta for their game against the Falcons. Drew Brees threw 5 interceptions and his record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass was snapped as the Falcons controlled the rematch 23-13. (The Falcons went on to earn the top seed in the NFC for the second time in three years.)
- In 2013, the teams met in a highly promoted opening-week match-up. The Saints held off a last-second Atlanta drive to win 23–17, then went on to win their first five games while the Falcons, hampered by injuries, unexpectedly suffered through a loss-filled campaign. In the rematch, a Thursday night prime-time game, the Saints again held on to win another narrow victory, 17–13, marked by Brees moving past Warren Moon into fifth place on the all-time career passing list.
In addition, the Falcons share a similar, yet smaller, rivalry with the nearby Carolina Panthers, with both teams being in the NFC West from the Panthers' founding in 1995 to the NFL realignment in 2002.
Record vs. opponents
Includes postseason records
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties
|Team||W||L||T||Percent||Last result||Last date||Last locale||Postseason|
|St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals||14||15||0||.483||W 38–19||November 27, 2016||Atlanta, Georgia||0–1 postseason|
|Baltimore Ravens||2||3||0||.400||L 7–29||October 19, 2014||Baltimore, Maryland|
|Buffalo Bills||7||4||0||.636||W 34–31 (OT)||December 1, 2013||Toronto, Ontario* (Falcons as away team)|
|Carolina Panthers||27||17||0||.614||W 33–16||December 24, 2016||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Chicago Bears||12||14||0||.462||L 13–22||October 12, 2014||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Cincinnati Bengals||5||8||0||.385||L 10–24||September 14, 2014||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Cleveland Browns||3||11||0||.214||L 24–26||November 23, 2014||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Dallas Cowboys||10||14||0||.417||W 39–28||September 27, 2015||Arlington, Texas||0–2 postseason|
|Denver Broncos||6||8||0||.429||W 23–16||October 9, 2016||Denver, Colorado||0–1 postseason|
|Detroit Lions||12||24||0||.333||L 21–22||October 26, 2014||London, England* (Falcons as home team)|
|Green Bay Packers||13||15||0||.464||W 44–21||January 22, 2016||Atlanta, Georgia||2–2 postseason|
|Houston Texans||2||2||0||.500||W 48–21||October 4, 2015||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts||2||14||0||.125||L 21–24||November 22, 2015||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||3||3||0||.500||W 23–17||December 20, 2015||Jacksonville, Florida|
|Kansas City Chiefs||3||6||0||.333||L 28–29||December 4, 2016||Atlanta, Georgia|
|San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers||8||2||0||.800||L 30–33 (OT)||October 23, 2016||Atlanta, Georgia|
|St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams||28||47||2||.377||W 42–14||December 11, 2016||Los Angeles, California||1–0 postseason|
|Miami Dolphins||4||8||0||.333||L 23–27||September 22, 2013||Miami Gardens, Florida|
|Minnesota Vikings||10||17||0||.370||L 10–20||November 29, 2015||Atlanta, Georgia||1–1 postseason|
|New England Patriots||6||8||0||.429||L 28-34||February 5, 2017||Houston, Texas* (Falcons as home team)||0–1 postseason|
|New Orleans Saints||49||45||0||.526||W 38–32||January 1, 2017||Atlanta, Georgia||1–0 postseason|
|New York Giants||12||11||0||.522||W 24–20||September 20, 2015||East Rutherford, New Jersey||0–1 postseason|
|New York Jets||6||5||0||.545||L 28–30||October 7, 2013||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders||7||7||0||.500||W 35–28||September 18, 2016||Oakland, California|
|Philadelphia Eagles||13||16||1||.450||L 15–24||November 13, 2016||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||1–2 postseason|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||2||13||1||.156||L 20–27||December 14, 2014||Atlanta, Georgia|
|San Francisco 49ers||30||46||1||.396||W 41–13||December 18, 2016||Atlanta, Georgia||1–1 postseason|
|Seattle Seahawks||6||10||0||.375||W 36–20||January 14, 2017||Atlanta, Georgia||2–0 postseason|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||23||24||0||.489||W 43–28||November 3, 2016||Tampa, Florida|
|Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans||7||7||0||.500||W 10–7||October 25, 2015||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Washington Redskins||9||14||1||.396||W 25–19 (OT)||October 11, 2015||Atlanta, Georgia||0–1 postseason|
- *Notes International Series
Single game records
- Rushing: Michael Turner, 220 (September 7, 2008)
- Passing: Matt Ryan, 503 (October 2, 2016)
- Passing touchdowns: Wade Wilson, 5 (December 13, 1992)
- Receptions: William Andrews, 15 (September 15, 1981)
- Receiving yards: Julio Jones, 300 (October 2, 2016)
- Interceptions: Several Falcons, 2, most recently Robert Alford, 2 (October 2, 2016)
- Field goals: Norm Johnson, 6 (November 13, 1994)
- Total touchdowns: T. J. Duckett, 4 (December 12, 2004) and Michael Turner 4 (November 23, 2008)
- Points scored: T. J. Duckett, 24 (December 12, 2004) and Michael Turner, 24 (November 23, 2008)
- Sacks: Chuck Smith, 5 (October 12, 1997)
Single season records
- Passing attempts: 651 Matt Ryan (2013)
- Passing completions: 439 Matt Ryan (2013)
- Passing yards: 4,944 Matt Ryan (2016)
- Passing touchdowns: 38 Matt Ryan (2016)
- Passing interceptions: 25 Bobby Hebert (1996)
- Completion percentage: 69.9 Matt Ryan (2016)
- Passing rating: 117.1 Matt Ryan (2016)
- Rushing attempts: 410 Jamal Anderson (1998)
- Rushing yards: 1,846 Jamal Anderson (1998)
- Rushing touchdowns: 17 Michael Turner (2008)
- Receiving catches: 136 Julio Jones (2015)
- Receiving yards: 1,871 Julio Jones (2015)
- Receiving touchdowns: 15 Andre Rison (1993)
- Quarterback sacks: 16.5 John Abraham (2008)
- Pass interceptions: 10 Scott Case (1988)
- Field goal attempts: 40 Jay Feely (2002)
- Field goals made: 34 Matt Bryant (2016)
- Points: 158 Matt Bryant (2016)
- Total touchdowns: 17 Michael Turner (2008)
- Passing attempts: 5,064 Matt Ryan (2008–present)
- Passing completions: 3,288 Matt Ryan (2008–present)
- Passing yards: 37,701 Matt Ryan (2008–present)
- Passing touchdowns: 240 Matt Ryan (2008–present)
- Passing interceptions: 141 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85)
- Passing rating: 93.6 Matt Ryan (2008–present)
- Rushing attempts: 1,587 Gerald Riggs (1982–88)
- Rushing yards: 6,631 Gerald Riggs (1982–88)
- Rushing yards by a QB: 3,859 Michael Vick (2001–2006)
- Rushing touchdowns: 60 Michael Turner (2008–2012)
- Receiving catches: 808 Roddy White (2005–2015)
- Receiving yards: 10,863 Roddy White (2005–2015)
- Receiving touchdowns: 63 Roddy White (2005–2015)
- Quarterback sacks: 68.5 John Abraham (2006–2012)
- Pass interceptions: 39 Rolland Lawrence (1973–80)
- Field goal attempts: 224 Morten Andersen (1995–2000, 2006–2007)
- Field goals made: 196 Matt Bryant (2009–present)
- Points: 892 Matt Bryant (2009–present)
- Total touchdowns: 63 Roddy White (2005–2015)
- Pass interception return yards: 658 Rolland Lawrence (1973–80)
- Pass interception returned for touchdowns: 3 Deion Sanders (1989–1993) and Kevin Mathis (2002–2006)
- Punt return yards: 1,723 Allen Rossum (2002–2006)
- Kickoff return yards: 5,489 Allen Rossum (2002–2006)
- Longest punt: 75 John James (1972–1981) and Harold Alexander (1993–1994)
- Longest field goal: 59 Morten Andersen (1995–2000, 2006–2007) and Matt Bryant (2009–present)
Pro Football Hall of Famers
|Atlanta Falcons Hall of Famers|
|—||Norm Van Brocklin||Head Coach||1968–1974||1971|
|5||Morten Andersen||K||1995–2000, 2006–2007||2017|
Sanders and Humphrey are the only two players in the Hall of Fame that have been inducted based substantially on their service with the Falcons. Andersen spent eight of his 25 NFL seasons with the Falcons, and remains the team's all-time scoring leader, but he also played his first 13 NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints, also leading that team's career scoring list.
|Atlanta Falcons Retired Numbers|
|31||William Andrews||RB||1979–1983, 1986|
|57||Jeff Van Note||C||1969–1986|
Ring of Honor
The Atlanta Falcons organization does not officially retire jersey numbers, but considers certain players' jerseys worthy of being honored. The Falcons Ring of Honor, which is featured in the rafters of the Georgia Dome, honors individual players.
|Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor|
|31||William Andrews||RB||1979–1983, 1986||2004|
|57||Jeff Van Note||C||1969–1986||2006|
Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
In their history, the Atlanta Falcons have had 15 head coaches.
|Norb Hecker||1966–1968||4–26–1 (.129)||Fired after three games in 1968.|
|Norm Van Brocklin||1968–1974||39–48–3 (.433)||Fired after eight games in 1974.|
|Marion Campbell||1974–1976||6–19 (.240)||Fired after five games in 1976.|
|Pat Peppler||1976||3–6 (.333)||Interim head coach.|
|Leeman Bennett||1977–1982||46–41 (.529)|
|Dan Henning||1983–1986||22–41–1 (.344)|
|Marion Campbell||1987–1989||11–36 (.234)||Retired after 12 games in 1989.|
|Jim Hanifan||1989||0–4 (.000)||Interim head coach.|
|Jerry Glanville||1990–1993||27–37 (.422)|
|June Jones||1994–1996||19–29 (.396)|
|Dan Reeves||1997–2003||49–59–1 (.450)|
|Wade Phillips||2003||2–1 (.667)||Interim head coach.|
|Jim Mora||2004–2006||26–22 (.542)|
|Bobby Petrino||2007||3–10 (.231)||Resigned after 13 games to take over Arkansas Razorbacks.|
|Emmitt Thomas||2007||1–2 (.333)||Interim head coach.|
|Mike Smith||2008–2014||66-46 (.589)|
|Dan Quinn||2015–present||19-13 (.594)|
Atlanta Falcons staff
Radio and television
As of 2014, the Falcons' flagship radio station is WZGC 92.9 The Game, in partnership with WQXI 790 The Zone. Wes Durham, son of longtime North Carolina Tar Heels voice Woody Durham, is the Falcons' play-by-play announcer, with former Atlanta Falcons QB and pro football veteran, Dave Archer serving as color commentator.
In the regular season, the team's games are seen on Fox's O&O affiliate WAGA. When the Falcons challenge an AFC team, CBS affiliate WGCL will air those games while Sunday night games are televised on WXIA, the local NBC affiliate.
Notes and references
- "Atlanta Falcons Team Capsule" (PDF). 2016 Official National Football League Record and Fact Book. National Football League. July 15, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- "Rise Up: History" (PDF). 2016 Atlanta Falcons Media Guide. Atlanta Falcons. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Hubbuch, Bart (January 7, 2012). "Queens-born owner models Falcons after hometown team". New York Post. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- "Atlanta Falcons Corporate Headquarters and Training Facility". claycorp.com. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
- "Atlanta Falcons Team History". Nflteamhistory.com. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- "1966 NFL Draft". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Atlanta Falcons. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- "Franchise nicknames". Pro Football Hall of Fame. January 1, 2005. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- "Arthur Blank buys Falcons from Smith family". December 17, 2001.
- "Falcons unveil new logo" (Press release). Atlanta Falcons. March 19, 2003. Archived from the original on June 23, 2003. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- "Atlanta Falcons: Thomas Dimitroff". atlantafalcons.com.
- "Coaches". atlantafalcons.com.
- "Recent news on Michael Turner – Unsigned Free Agent – Rotoworld.com". rotoworld.com.
- "Atlanta Falcons Stats at NFL.com". nfl.com.
- "Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons – 2015 Player Profile – Rotoworld.com". rotoworld.com.
- Singer, Mike (November 28, 2012). "Atlanta's Jacquizz Rodgers emerging as Falcons top back". CBSSports.com. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- "Galleries". CNN. September 5, 2011.
- "Panthers use opportunistic defense to crush Falcons, win NFC South". ESPN.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Patra, Kevin. "Atlanta Falcons fire coach Mike Smith". NFL.com. NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Stites, Adam. "Dan Quinn named Atlanta Falcons head coach". SB Nation. Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Fitzgerald, Matt. "2015 NFL Draft Results: Complete List of Picks, Analysis of Major Storylines". Bleacher Report. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
- Schefter, Adam (February 1, 2015). "NFL investigating Atlanta Falcons for fake crowd noise at Georgia Dome". ESPN. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Patra, Kevin (March 30, 2015). "Atlanta Falcons lose 2016 pick for pumping fake noise". National Football League. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- "Patriots' Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback". NBC Sports. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
- "Falcons tied Greatest Show on Turf for record 7th most points scored ever". The Falcoholic. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
- "2016 Atlanta Falcons Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
- "Atlanta Falcons, city officials agree on financing terms for new $1 billion stadium". ESPN.go.com. March 7, 2013. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- Saporta, Maria. "New Falcons stadium cost 'rises up' -- again -- another $100 million". Atlanta Business Chronicle. American City Business Journals. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
- "Atlanta City Council approves Falcons stadium funding". myfoxatlanta.com. March 18, 2013. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- "Falcons unveil new uniforms at fan rally" (Press release). Atlanta Falcons. April 24, 2003. Archived from the original on July 5, 2003. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- "All Games in NFL History with a 62 to 7 score"
- "Steve Gleason statue unveiled", Associated Press at ESPN.com, July 28, 2012.
- "Atlanta Falcons Team Encyclopedia". Pro Football Reference. 2008. Retrieved August 17, 2008.
- "Michael Vick: Career Stats at NFL.com". nfl.com.
- "Atlanta Falcons – Ring of Honor". atlantafalcons.com.
- "History of Atlanta Falcons Head Coaches". Atlanta Falcons. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- Ho, Rodney. "92.9/The Game becomes a Falcons affiliate". Radio & TV Talk with Rodney Ho. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
- "Falcons Announce New Local TV Partner". atlantafalcons.com. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
- Braves New Home In Chattanooga Is Brewer Media's ESPN 105.1 The Zone
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