The Atlanta Falcons (15-2) will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings (16-1) at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis on Monday, April 6 at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast at www.atlantafalcons.com/1998, Pat Summerall and John Madden will have the call.
Atlanta closed out the regular season with nine-straight victories to secure the NFC West title for the third time in franchise history. First-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl running back Jamal Anderson posted 1,846 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on 410 attempts while wide receivers Terence Mathis (1,136) and Tony Martin (1,181) each eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Pro Bowl Quarterback Chris Chandler led the club to a 13-1 record in 14 starts, throwing for 3,154 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
The 'Dirty Birds' ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing a paltry 18.1 points per game. Led by Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jesse "the Hammer" Tuggle, the Falcons defense held opponents to 75.2 yards per game on the ground and 220.7 passing yards per game. Atlanta's secondary picked off 19 passes including 11 combined from Pro-Bowl cornerbacks Ray Buchanan (7) and Eugene Robinson (4).
The Falcons will face the most prolific offense in the history of the NFL in this matchup. The Vikings set a league record by scoring 556 points during the regular season and features Pro Bowlers such as quarterback Randall Cunningham, running back Robert Smith, and all-world wide receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss. The 15-1 Vikings have scored 30-or-more points in 11 games and averaged 34.8 points per game. Cunningham threw 34 touchdowns including a rookie record 17 going to Moss and an additional 12 to Carter. Additionally, placekicker Gary Anderson became the first player in NFL history to convert every field goal and extra point that he attempted.
Atlanta enters the championship game after a, 20-18, victory over its NFC West rival San Francisco at the Georgia Dome in the divisional round. The Falcons jumped out to a 14-0 lead with Anderson scoring on runs of 2-yards and 34-yards. The 49ers would cut the lead to four points at half time after Steve Young hit Jerry Rice for a 17-yard touchdown and Wade Richey connected on a 36-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
Morten Andersen would push the Falcons lead to 10 points with a pair of field goals, converting from 29-yards and 32-yards. Young would bring the 49ers back, engineering a 13-play, 87-yard drive culminating in an eight-yard rushing touchdown by the seven-time pro bowler. Following the score, Ty Detmer connected with Greg Clark for the two-point conversion on a fake field goal, cutting the Falcons lead to two.
Atlanta was able to run more than two minutes off the clock, feeding Anderson on six straight plays on the following position but the Falcons had to punt the ball back to Young and the 49ers with just under a minute to play. Despite connecting on seven consecutive throws on their previous scoring drive, Young was stifled by the 'Dirty Birds' completing just one of five throws on the games final drive. Atlanta's victory was sealed when William White intercepted Young's desperation heave in the waning seconds.
In the 1998 season, the Atlanta Falcons took on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, a game that came down to one last field goal by Falcons' kicker Morten Andersen in overtime giving the team a 30-27 victory.