It’s the NFL’s 100th season, which offers a time to reflect upon the league’s history. The Atlanta Falcons have been a major part of that history throughout their existence as a franchise, which began in 1965.
There have been Super Bowl appearances, record-setting performances and Hall of Famers who have passed through Atlanta since that time, and while all are worthy of praise, not all great things are created equally. So, what is the greatest moment in Falcons history? Well, that’s where you get to decide.
Here is a little information on the four candidates for the greatest moment in Falcons history (in chronological order):
The Vikings entered this game an overwhelming favorite against the Falcons. They were the league’s top-scoring offense and boasted the No. 6 scoring defense as well. Minnesota’s lone regular season loss in 1998 came by just three points on the road against Tampa Bay, and the Vikings had an average margin of victory of 16 points. Despite all of that, the Falcons went toe-to-toe against the Vikings in Minnesota and emerged with a 30-27 overtime victory. Morten Andersen’s 38-yard game-winning field goal has gone down in legend as, “The Kick.”
No player in Falcons history has had the level of impact that Ryan has. The No. 3-overall pick in 2008, Ryan became an instant starter and became just the second rookie in NFL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards. Under Ryan’s leadership, the Falcons did not have a losing season until 2013 and his 56 wins were the most by a quarterback in his first five seasons in NFL history. Ryan became the first player in franchise history to be named league MVP after posting a 117.1 passer rating in 2016, which ranks fifth all-time for a single season. He led the franchise to its second ever Super Bowl appearance and already owns every major career Falcons passing record.
In this playoff classic, Ryan proved to his doubters he could win in the postseason by leading the Falcons to a 30-28 victory against the Seahawks in the 2012 divisional round. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns. Critically, Ryan stepped up when it mattered the most, leading Atlanta on a final drive with just 25 seconds remaining to set up Matt Bryant’s game-winning 49-yard field goal. This game ended up much closer than people expected after the Falcons jumped out to a 20-0 lead at halftime, but Ryan and Bryant proved to be clutch once again. Notably, this was also the first playoff win of Tony Gonzalez’s illustrious career.
The Falcons scored 31 straight points against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, kicking off a party throughout Atlanta. The team held onto that lead, cruising to a 44-21 victory and continuing their magical season. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan were virtually unstoppable in this win. Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns while Jones caught nine passes for 180 yards and a pair of scores. This was a victory that sent the Falcons to their second Super Bowl and sent the Georgia Dome off in style.