Throughout one stretch during the 1997 season, the Falcons were one of the hottest teams in the NFL on the heels of a four-game winning streak. The road block in their path to continue their winning ways was a showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In a Week 16 contest, the Falcons outlasted the Eagles' strong fourth quarter rally to prevail at the end, 20-17, in a very hard fought game. Kicker Morten Andersen booted his 25th game-winning field goal to keep the Birds' winning streak in tact.
Atlanta used a productive running game that day on the legs of Jamal Anderson and Bryon Hanspard to amass a season-high 211 yards on the ground. The Falcons also relied on the receiving heroics of seldom used backup running back Harold Green to seal the deal.
After Eagles kicker Chris Boniol's 39-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining tied the game at 17 apiece, the Falcons would not be denied. On the third play of their game-deciding drive, Green made a superb catch on a very low throw and scampered through the Eagles defense 47 yards down to the 18-yard line. This huge catch was of the shoe lace variety that came very close to hitting the turf and never happening. But the eight-year pro out of South Carolina scooped it up and jetted down the middle of the field to keep the Falcons' chances alive.
"The throw was kind of short, so I wanted to make sure I caught the ball first before I worked my way up the field," Green said of his big catch-and-run Green. "At that point, I was just trying to get as many yards as I could to put us in field goal position."
Green did precisely that and became the game's MVP.
After a short running play, Atlanta ran the clock down to five seconds. Andersen calmly trotted out to the field and promptly nailed a 33-yarder for the win. The kick helped Andersen pass Hall-of-Famer Jan Stenerud for third place on the NFL's all-time field goal list with the 374th three-pointer of his illustrious career. And in the process, he helped the Falcons to their fifth straight victory.
Is it possible that a similar storyline will unfold Sunday at The Linc? Will the Falcons extend their winning streak this season to five games? I think the Birds would take anything similar to what happened back in that 1997 game … as long as it's a "W."