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.
That's the number of times the Atlanta Falcons have visited the Land of 10,000 Lakes since the infamous 1998 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, when former Falcons kicker Morten Andersen kicked the game-winning 39-yard field goal to beat the Vikings 30-27 in overtime, pushing the Falcons into Super Bowl XXXIII, the team's first and only Super Bowl appearance.
The matchup between the Falcons and the Vikings on Sunday will mark only the fourth time the Falcons have traveled north, and the eighth time the two teams have met face-to-face to play each other in the fifteen years since that notorious game.
Andersen and former Falcons running back Jamal Anderson remember the game as if it happened yesterday. Both men have fond memories playing with the Falcons, but none beat out January 17, 1999.
"It was such a team game," Anderson said. "It wasn't about one player on our football team. It was truly about 53 guys putting the tremendous effort together and winning the championship."
The Falcons entered the Metrodome as 11-point underdogs; but instead of letting that fact alone get to them, they played with heart, came together as a team, and beat the talented Vikings, finally putting the naysayers to bed.
Come Sunday, it won't be Andersen on the field. However, the man who took over Andersen's post two years after he retired from the NFL, will be out there between the hashes. Matt Bryant, who has been clutch in the first three games of the season, as well as countless of other times throughout his career, will be ready if and when he is needed.
Andersen has become a mentor to Bryant. They see each other every so often, playing a round of golf as they swap stories and joke with each other. Behind all of that, though, they each have the utmost respect for one another.
"He's unbelievable," Andersen said of Bryant. "He's very good in defining moments."
No doubt Bryant will play his best Sunday afternoon; who knows, he may have another career defining moment. Either way, the pair will have something to talk about the next time they pick up their golf clubs together.
"Right now I'm chasing him, so hopefully I get a chance to one-up him one day," Bryant said of Andersen. "Bottom line is, you go out there and do your best. At the end of the day, that's all that matters."