The second installment of the Falcons three-part series: 'The Rudest Team': The story of the 1991 Falcons continues tonight with 'The Season' at 7 p.m. on Youtube. In part two, Jerry Glanville, Chris Miller, Michael Haynes, Jessie Tuggle, and Robert Lyles reflect on the ups and downs of what was then the Falcons' second-winningest season in franchise history.
The group also discussed everything from Glanville almost being fired for a Waffle House steak reference, Miller playing in a game with a 103-degree fever, to their last game at Fulton County Stadium.
"We didn't care about our locker room, we didn't care [that] you walk down through a dugout to get up to the field, we didn't care about the dirt, man," Miller said about playing at Fulton County Stadium that the Falcons shared with the Atlanta Braves. "It was like, alright, our fans are here. They got our back. Let's go ball, and let's put on a show. That was kind of was our mentality."
While the 1991 team had tons of fun off the field – and sometimes even on it – they never let their shenanigans affect their play. After beginning the season 5-5, including an 0-2 start, the Falcons went on to finish the year winning five of their last six games and earning the franchise's first playoff berth since 1982.
One of the team's most impressive feats that year came in their dominance of the state of California. Back then, the Falcons played in the NFC West with the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco 49ers. Which meant the Falcons had to make the over 2,000 mile trip to California at least twice a year, which never made any sense to Tuggle, but it didn't matter anyway.
The Falcons went undefeated against California teams, sweeping the 49ers and the Rams in their respective two matchups apiece, and beat the Los Angeles Raiders and San Diego Chargers.
Falcons legends from the '91 team came together to film The 30th Anniversary of 'The Rudest Team' The History of the 1991 Falcons. Get an inside look at some of the best moments behinds the scenes.
The Falcons then crowned themselves as the California State Champions, even getting a large trophy to show for it.
"Who does that, man?" Tuggle said with a smile. "What other team would make a trophy and have California State Champions on it? That was so cool… That's the kinda swag we had and the kinda fun we had."
And the most fun thing about those California trips came on the five-hour plane rides back to Atlanta, in which Haynes said they didn't sleep much.
"We're landing, no seatbelts on; we're standing like this," Miller says with a smile, his arms pointing horizontally. "trying to surf the landing."
Their most exciting win en route to becoming the California State Champions came in a 17-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Down 14-10 with seconds remaining, backup quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver – who was in after Miller suffered fractured ribs earlier in the game – launched the ball to Michael Haynes in the back of the endzone in a sea of white 49ers jerseys.
Haynes came with the football – his only catch of the game – to give the Falcons the win.
"But Mike, tell everyone that it wasn't luck," Tuggle demands as Haynes is talking about the catch. "Tell 'em what you guys used to do at practice every day."
What Tuggle was referring to was the Falcons quarterbacks "bucket" competition that followed practice each day. Falcons quarterbacks would line up buckets six yards away from the sideline, 44 yards away from where they were throwing, and try to throw the football into the bucket.
And on that day, Haynes became the proverbial bucket.
"It was one of those things, you got all these guys down there, and it's a free for all," Haynes said. "You're just trying to go get the ball."
Beyond Hail Mary's and buckets, the Falcons season was full of close games that ended in some kind of miracle. Whether it be Chris Miller's late-game heroics against the Packers while battling shivers and a 103-degree fever to their last-second field goal win over the Saints, the 1991 Falcons won almost every game in an exciting way.
"We were winning the games we weren't supposed to win," Haynes said, "and winning the game we should have won."