This series between Atlanta and its counterparts to the Pacific Northwest does not have much history. The Seahawks and the Falcons will face off for only the 12th time Sunday, and the Falcons will be making only their sixth trek overall to the Emerald City, third since 1997.
Seattle came into the league as an expansion team in 1976 as a member of the AFC. They moved over to the NFC in 2002 as part of NFL realignment when Houston was added as the 32nd team. The Seahawks were moved into the NFC West, which gave the league eight balanced divisions of four teams each.
One particular game that stands out in this rivalry is the final game at Fulton County Stadium. It was almost 20 years to the day on Dec. 15, 1991 — a sunny, but blistery day when fans would say goodbye to pro football outdoors in Atlanta.
The Falcons were riding a black wave (Jerry Glanville's name for the team's defense) into the playoffs while the Seahawks were on their way to a 7-9 campaign. The two quarterbacks that day were picked six spots apart in the first round of the 1987 draft. Kelly Stouffer was the sixth overall choice by the old St. Louis Cardinals and Chris Miller was the Falcons' selection at No. 12.
I remember one prominent local newspaper actually making a draft prognostication that Stouffer was going to be the Birds' pick. After sitting out an entire year because of a contract dispute with Cardinals management, Stouffer was dealt to Seattle in 1988.
Other notable names on the Fulton County field that day included WR Andre Rison, G Bill Fralic, T Chris Hinton, S Brian Jordan and CB Deion Sanders for the Falcons and NT Cortez Kennedy, DE Jacob Green, WR Brian Blades and RB James Jones for the Seahawks.
The game started out strong for the home team as Jordan blitzed from the secondary and sacked Stouffer for a safety to account for the first points on the day. Stouffer was knocked out of the game on that play and did not return, giving way to veteran signal-caller Dave Krieg.
A short 4-yard touchdown pass from Miller to WR George Thomas staked the Falcons to a 12-0 halftime advantage. The Birds would put the game out of reach with a big return play in the third quarter.
From his own endzone, Krieg unleashed a bomb intended for Blades but it was badly overthrown and landed in the waiting arms of CB Tim McKyer. The Falcons had a knack in 1991 for making turnovers into big scoring opportunities.
Sanders quickly scampered behind McKyer for the pitch. Prime Time did what he became famous for as he deftly bobbed and weaved his way around several Seahawks with the last futile attempt coming from Krieg, who helplessly fell to the ground after being juked by the lightening-quick Sanders. The 48-yard touchdown return gave the Birds an unbeatable 19-0 lead as Sanders' spectacular run deflated the Seahawks' hopes.
The final score would read 26-13 as the final curtain was pulled down on football at Fulton County Stadium.