The tie will be broken this weekend as both teams have captured six victories apiece in this series. The Falcons and Patriots started playing each other in 1972.
In a Week 9 showdown during a very special 1998 season, the Falcons faced an equally strong Patriots opponent looking to hit their playoff stride. And this game had historical significance, as well.
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Atlanta’s defense forced a then club record five New England turnovers and limited the Pats to a mere 18 yards rushing, a team record-low, and 223 total yards in a convincing 41-10 victory.
Falcons DE Chuck Smith led the stalwart defensive charge, registering 2.5 sacks, with six overall tackles and returned a fumble 71-yards for a touchdown. LB’s Cornelius Bennett and Jessie Tuggle accounted for eight tackles each while DE Lester Archambeau got in on the sack attack with 2.5 drops of his own.
The Falcons turned an early Patriots miscue into a quick score as TE O.J. Santiago grabbed a 7-yard touchdown for an early 14-0 first quarter lead. After a New England field goal, the Birds countered with a seven-play, 74-yard scoring march of their own as RB Jamal Anderson carried the load with 45 yards on six totes, culminating in a 10-yard touchdown run, his second of the contest.
Smith then piled on the scoring barrage as he scooped up a QB Drew Bledsoe fumble off of an Archambeau sack and strip, and rumbled 71 yards for the score, as the Birds raced to a 28-3 advantage. Smith’s timely turnover is still the fourth longest fumble return in team history.
Anderson finished with 104 yards rushing on 32 carries (with two scores) while WR Terance Mathis led all receivers with eight catches for 117 yards.
This contest was a landmark game in team history because it was the official birth of the Dirty Bird. Anderson and Santiago both displayed versions of the Dirty Bird dance on their respective touchdown scores and the craze would go on to sweep the nation and become one of the signature moments for a Falcons team that would go on to reach their first Super Bowl.