Atlanta Falcons

Tue, 09 Sep 2008 16:49

The history of the Atlanta Falcons

About the NFL team Atlanta Falcons.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlanta Falcons are part of the National Football Conference South division of the NFL. They joined the league in 1966 as an expansion team and compiled a record of 262-383-6 over a period of 42 years. Their first Super Bowl was the Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami, Florida.

The 1960s

Rankin Smith Sr. was granted the franchise on June 30, 1965. His first draft was Tommy Nobis of the University of Texas. Scoring was low during the team's first season. The first nine games were lost. The Falcons first win was against the New York Giants. The team only had a total of twelve wins in the 60s.

The Falcons’ first official game was against the Los Angeles Rams. Their coach was Norm Hacker. The Rams led at 16-0. The Falcons would catch up with 14 points, but the Rams would later pull ahead with 19-14. Against the Giants, the Falcons pulled an upset with a 26-14 score. Their first season finished with a 3-11 record.

Their second season was a bit more disappointing. The team only had one win, with a record of 1-12-1.

By the third season, coach Hacker was fired after an initial three-game loss. Norm Van Brocklin replaced Hacker as lead coach. The Falcons won again against the Giants. In 1968, they posted just two wins, with a 2-12 record.

By 1969, the team had greatly improved with a record of 6-8. They started the season by defeating the San Francisco 49ers. They also beat the New Orleans Saints with an impressive 45-17 win.

The 1970s

The 1970s started with the teams first Monday night football game. In the 1970 season, they had a solid 3-3 start, only to finish with a 4-8-2 record.

The year 1971 marked the team’s first winning season. Prior to their final game with the Saints, the Falcons' record was at 6-6-1. They needed to win. With their wide receiver Ken Burrow, who played with a broken wrist that time, collecting 190 receiving yards, the Falcons went on to pull a 24-20 victory in the last 40 seconds of the game.

By 1972, the team had played well enough to vie for the NFC Western Division title in San Francisco. The team was shutout though with a 20-0 loss. In another game with the Kansas City Chiefs, running back Dave Hampton went beyond the 1,000 mark. He would later finish at 995 yards for a 6-yard loss. The Falcons lost the game and ended the season with a 7-7 record.

The 1973 season started off well when the Falcons beat the Saints with an impressive 62-7 score. Oddly though, the team lost their next three games, where they only managed a total of fifteen points. They got back on their feet for the next seven games and qualified to be in contention for the playoffs. The team, however, lost two games out of their final three games, making them miss the playoffs by one game. During this season, Hampton once again closed in on the 1,000-yard mark. This time, he was off just by three yards.  

1974 saw the team return to tentative playing, where they lost their first three games. They won their next two but Coach Van Brocklin was still fired. He was replaced by Marion Campbell, under whom the team still lost their next five games of the season. They finished with a record of 3-11.

In 1975, they struggled to gain some ground again, under rookie quarterback Steve Bartkowski. Running back Hampton,  however, pulled ahead successfully, tallying a total of 1,002 for the season. The Falcons end 1975 with a 4-10 record.

Bartkowski’s struggle continued in 1976, and he would sometimes be benched in favor of Kim McQuilken. McQuilken seemed to play worse than Bartkowski. When the season record reached 4-8, coach Campbell resigned. The team lost their last two games, under new coach Pat Peppler.

By 1977, Leeman Bennett took over as coach, and “Gritz Blitz” joined the defensive team. The defense allowed only 129 points during the season. However, the offensive still struggled and was unable to rack up the necessary points. The season ended with a 7-7 record.

The year 1978 marked the team’s first playoff series. The Falcons won the Wild Card Playoffs against the Philadelphia Eagles but later lost the Divisional Playoffs against the Dallas Cowboys. The game with the Cowboys started positively with the Falcons gaining a 20-13 lead. The Cowboys struggled back to lead by 27-20. The cowboys ended the game by running down the clock.

The next year started right with rookie William Andrews. The team won with a 40-34 score on overtime against New Orleans. Andrews would later set a record at 1,023 yards. Likewise, Bartkowski also became the first Falcon to run pass the 2,000-yard mark.

The 1980s

The decade saw the Falcons post a 12-4 record. The season started with a 3-3 record. The Falcons would then pull off a nine-game winning streak. They played the divisional playoffs against the Dallas Cowboys. By the fourth quarter, they led by 24-10. In a dramatic ending, the Cowboys pull off an astounding 20 points to win the game by 30-27.

The year 1981 started great for the team with a three-game winning streak. However, they ended the year with a 7-9, with losses that were only by a maximum of five points. The shortened 1982 season (because of a player strike) saw the Falcons qualifying for the playoffs. They played against the Minnesota Vikings, leading the game with 21-16 until the 4th quarter. The Vikings jumped back to 30-24, and the Falcons eventually lost. Coach Bennett was fired for losing the game, with Dan Henning replacing him.

The record setters of the Falcons continued to make their mark in 1983. Andrews posted a 1,567 yards rushing. Likewise, Bartkowski passed the 3,167-yard mark. The team’s defensive suffered in the 1983 season though, allowing 389 points. The team finished with a 7-9 record.

Andrews suffered career-ending knee injuries by 1984. He was replaced by Gerald Riggs, who ran 1,486 yards during the season and scored thirteen touchdowns. The team, however, still had a very lackluster defensive team, and the Falcons posted a 4-12 record during the season.

By 1986, Henning was fired and replaced with sometime Falcon coach Campbell. Again, under Campbell, the Falcons suffered losses from 1987 to 1989. By 1989, Campbell was fired in favor of Jim Hanifan.

The 1990s

It was only in 1991 when the team made it to the playoffs again. They lost to the Washington Redskins, however.

1998 was said to be the best Falcon season to date. The teams started with a 5-1 record. They ended the season with a nine-game winning streak that brought them to the divisional playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers. During the game, the Falcons advanced with a 14-0 led, and climaxed with a 20-18 victory. This would be the Falcons’ first time to get into the Super Bowl. During Super Bowl; they eventually lost to the Denver Broncos 34-19.

The Falcons continued to play some of football’s highs and lows. They almost get into the Super Bowl again in 2004 only to lose to the Eagles with a 27-10 score.

In recent news, a recently signed Michael Vick was indicted with a federal offense for dog fighting. The NFL suspended Vicks indefinitely, and the Falcons lost their star quarterback.