In a rematch of the NFC Championship Game the year before, the 2005 Falcons opened the season at home against the Eagles. In front of 70,806 fans and a national television audience on ABC's Monday Night Football, this revenge game for Atlanta started in strange fashion.
During pregame warm-ups, the emotional jawing between the two teams reached a boiling point and before you knew it there was a sea of green and red jerseys (along with some coaches) converging at midfeld. Punches started being thrown by both sides and calm had to be restored by the referees and each team's officials.
In an unusual move that you never see these days in the NFL, Eagles LB Jeremiah Trotter and Falcons S Kevin Mathis were both ejected BEFORE the game even started. So Atlanta was without their top nickelback and one of their defensive leaders and Philadelphia had to play the game minus their starting middle linebacker.
The Falcons raced to a 14-7 halftime lead on the heels of some tough running by T.J. Duckett and a timely 58-yard reception by WR Michael Jenkins.
Atlanta's defense went on the offensive in the third quarter as DE Patrick Kerney sacked Philly QB Donovan McNabb on the Falcons' 31-yard line (for his 48th career sack), forcing a fumble which the Falcons recovered. In the final quarter, the "D" also came up big again as they shutdown the vaunted Eagles offense to allow just 84 total yards and 7 rushing yards the rest of the way in holding on to a 14-10 victory.
RB Warrick Dunn rushed for 117 yards in helping the Birds towards a total of 200 yards on the ground for the night. Atlanta settled for a little pay back after getting beat 27-10 at Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game seven months earlier.
This encounter on September 12, 2005 at the Dome, which began in an odd way with two ejections, was the last Falcons victory in the series. Let's hope history repeats itself this Sunday on another September day in the Dome on a national stage.