Atlanta Falcons Information
1965 - The Atlanta Falcons are born. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, grants ownership to Rankin M. Smith Sr. They draft Tommy Nobis, LB, University of Texas with the 1st pick of the 1966 NFL Draft held on November 27, 1965, making him the first ever Falcon.
1966 - The Falcons play their first NFL season. After losing their first nine games, the Falcons would get their first franchise win on the road against the New York Giants 27-16 . Former Giant Ernie Wheelwright scored two TD's receiving and ran for 51 more yards as QB Randy Johnson hit for a trio of TD's. Their first ever home victory against the St. Louis Cardinals 16-10. The Falcons end their inaugural season at 3-11, yet Nobis wins the NFL Rookie of the Year Award and becomes the first Falcon named to the Pro Bowl.
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1968 - On October 1 , Norm Van Brocklin, formerly head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, is named to replace Norb Hecker after three games of season. Two weeks later, his Falcons beat New York, 24-21, in first meeting between Van Brocklin and his former QB, Fran Tarkenton.
1969 - On September 21, the Falcons win their first season opener ever, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 24-12, before home fans. Rookie Tight End Jim Mitchell scored two TD's and club set team record with 229 yards rushing. On December 7, Harmon Wages threw for a TD in the first quarter (16 yards to Paul Flatley), caught a pass for a TD in the second quarter (88 yards), and then ran for a TD in the fourth quarter (66 yards) in a 45-17 rout of the Saints. The Falcons finish the year with a 6-8 record.
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1971 - On November 22, the Falcons win their first nationally televised game with a 28-21 triumph over Green Bay in Atlanta. Atlanta had 77 plays to the Packers 33, outgaining them 386-143, as Monday Night Football televised the action. On December 19, the Falcons beat New Orleans, 24-20, with 40 seconds left in the game. The victory gives the Falcons with a winning record for the first time.
1972 - On October 1, the Falcons finally defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 31-3 at Atlanta Stadium. Dave Hampton and Art Malone set a club record by each running for over 100 yards. On December 17, Hampton technically became the club's first 1,000- yard rusher. Against the Kansas City Chiefs, the veteran running back ran for his 1,000th yard. However, his next carry was a six-yard loss and his final carry a one-yard gain. Thus, he ended at 995. The Falcons finish second in the NFC West, their highest division finish in franchise history up to that point, with a 7-7 record.
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1973 - Opening against New Orleans, the Falcons smash 35 team records en route to 62-7 victory on September 16. On November 19, the Falcons upset the unbeaten Vikings, 20-14, before a national television audience. Dave Hampton once again barely misses the 1,000 yard mark. The Falcons finish 9-5 for their most wins and best record ever, but lose out for the playoffs by one game.
1975 - With the first pick in the NFL Draft, the club selects quarterback Steve Bartkowski of the University of California. The Falcons finish the year with a 4-10 record, but Dave Hampton finally breaks the 1,000 yard mark (1,002) in a 22-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
1977 - Former NFL quarterback Eddie LeBaron is named General Manager, and Leeman Bennett becomes the fifth Head Coach in club history. The Falcons defense sets an NFL record for the fewest points allowed in a 14 game season, 129. Falcons finish with a 7-7 record
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1978 - On November 12, Falcons win over the New Orleans Saints in a game now known as "Big Ben Right". With 19 seconds left, Bartkowski threw 57 yards into a cluster where Alfred Jackson caught a pass deflected by Wallace Francis. The Falcons make the playoffs for the first time with a 9-7 record, and beat the visiting Philadelphia Eagles 14-13 on Christmas Eve. The next week they lose to the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas, 27-20.
1979 - The team finishes with a 6-10 record. Records were broken for the season by William Andrews with 1,023 yards, by Wallace Francis with 74 catches for 1,013 yards and by Steve Bartkowski with 2,502 yards (203-379).
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1980 - Highly successful season for the Falcons, as they finish 12-4. Bartkowski throws for three touchdowns on December 14 as the Falcons defeat the San Francisco 49ers, 35-10 to win their first-ever NFC West division title. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Falcons lose to the Dallas Cowboys, 30-27, as Cowboys rally for 20 points in Atlanta before a then-record 60,022 fans.
1982 - The Falcons make the playoffs in this strike-shortened season with a record of 5-4, but they would end up losing to the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota 30-24. Bennett is dismissed as Head Coach soon after, and is replaced by Dan Henning.
1989 - First-round draft pick Deion Sanders ends his lengthy contract holdout and reports to camp. He takes a Friday practice and Saturday walk through and puts on the football pads for the first time in seven months in the season opener vs. the Rams. In the first quarter, "Prime Time" returns a punt 68 yards for a touchdown. After hitting a home run for the New York Yankees earlier that week, it makes him the only modern day athlete to hit a HR and score a TD in the same week.
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1991 - The "2 Legit 2 Quit" Falcons make the playoffs as the sixth seed with a 10-6 record, snapping a streak of eight consecutive losing seasons. Notable personalities on this team are CB Deion Sanders and WR Andre Rison. Rapper MC Hammer is seen on the sideline at several games during the season, as is country star Travis Tritt. The Falcons made it to the second round of the playoffs by beating the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome (27-20). The next week, they would end up losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins 24-7. After the season, the Falcons make a fateful trade with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers give them a first round NFL Draft pick for a third-string quaterback named Brett Favre.
1995 - In the final game of the season, the Falcons come from behind to beat the San Francisco 49ers 28-27 to secure a playoff spot. They go on to lose to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field 37-20.
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1998 - Led by QB Chris Chandler and RB Jamal Anderson, the "Dirty Bird" Falcons have their greatest season to date. On November 8, they won 41-10 over the Patriots at New England, snapping a streak of 22 consecutive losses at cold-weather sites in November and December that had dated back to 1982. The team finishes with a 14-2 regular season record and win the NFC West. On January 18, 1999, the Falcons upset the top-seeded 15-1 Vikings at Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game, 30-27 in overtime. They would lose, 34-19, to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.
2001 - Trade the #5 pick along with Tim Dwight to the San Diego Chargers for the #1 pick in the draft. With that pick they selected Michael Vick, who goes on to become the face of the franchise.
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2002 - The Falcons make the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record, then shock the National Football League on January 4th, 2003 by becoming the first road team in NFL history to defeat the Green Bay Packers 27-7 in a playoff game at Lambeau Field. Their playoff run would end in Philadelphia as the Eagles won.
2003 - After star QB Michael Vick breaks his leg in the preseason, the Falcons suffer through a 5-11 season. With 3 games left in the season, coach Dan Reeves resigns, handing the team to his defensive coordinator and former Bills coach Wade Phillips. The Falcons draft Virginia Tech CB DeAngelo Hall with the 8th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
2004 - Buoyed by the return of QB Michael Vick and energized by new Head Coach Jim L. Mora, the Falcons go 11-5 and easily win the NFC South. After having a first round bye and defeating the St. Louis Rams in the Divisional Round 47-17, the team advanced to the NFC Championship game where they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10.
After a 6-2 start the Falcons lost 6 of their remaining 8 games. Bright spots include the Falcons ending their Monday Night Football jinx by going 3-0, and on Thursday, November 24, the Falcons played on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in franchise history, beating the Detroit Lions 27-7. On the next-to-last game of the regular season, the Falcons got eliminated from playoff contention with a 27-24 overtime loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons finished 8-8 and once again failed to attain back-to-back winning seasons.