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Best Falcons Team Ever-1998


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Notable players: QB Chris Chandler, RB Jamal Anderson, WR Terance Mathis, LB Jessie Tuggle, K Morten Andersen, LB Cornelius Bennett.

If ever there’s been a one-year wonder, it was the 1998 Atlanta Falcons. For the better part of three months, this team was as hot as any team ever and it really didn’t matter who was coaching.

With coach Dan Reeves having open-heart surgery late in the season, Rich Brooks took over as the interim coach and the Falcons just kept on winning with a great defense and running back Jamal Anderson having a huge year. The Falcons went from Oct. 25, 1998, until the Super Bowl on Jan. 31, 1999, and didn’t lose a game.

During a Dec. 13 victory in New Orleans that made the Falcons 12-2, Reeves began experiencing chest pains. When he mentioned it to team doctors the next morning, they took a look and quickly rushed him into surgery. Without Reeves, the Falcons won the next two regular-season games to finish a franchise-best 14-2.

With some help from a first-round bye, Reeves was able to return for two very narrow playoff victories against San Francisco and Minnesota. The NFC Championship Game was in Minnesota, but Atlanta upset the Vikings. That also put the Falcons into the Super Bowl for the first -- and only -- time. The opponent was Denver.

That set up a great subplot as Reeves went against John Elway, the quarterback he had clashed with when they were together with the Broncos. Things didn’t go well for the Falcons even before the game.

Safety Eugene Robinson was arrested the night before the game and that created turmoil for Reeves and the Falcons. In the end, Robinson played, but it didn’t really matter. Elway and the Broncos had the upper hand, winning 34-19.

Most impressive win: The Nov. 1 game against St. Louis gets an honorable mention because it came after the Falcons got trashed by the Jets and it started the long winning streak. But people who were with the team then said the most important game was on Dec. 20 at Detroit. With Brooks coaching the team, the Falcons overcame three deficits to win 24-17 and clinched the NFC West title (this was before the NFC South was formed in 2002).

Research room: The 1998 Falcons led the NFL in takeaways (44), fumble recoveries (25 ) and time of possession (33:10).

Honorable mention teams

1980: With quarterback Steve Bartkowski and running back William Andrews leading the way, the Falcons won a division title for the first time in franchise history.

2008: In the aftermath of Bobby Petrino and Michael Vick, coach Mike Smith came in and took over a team that was expected by many to be horrible. With rookie Matt Ryan at quarterback, the Falcons went to the playoffs.

2002: This team made history by going into Lambeau Field and handing the Packers their first home playoff loss in franchise history.

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Complete BS ......the 1980 team was our most talented team ever, the best team in the NFL that year ........the fkn Cowturds robbed us, we had that game firmly in hand and let it slip away, I was there man, and I cried like a little sniveling baby for hours afterward .......no way the 98 team was better IMHO ........ :o

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Complete BS ......the 1980 team was our most talented team ever, the best team in the NFL that year ........the fkn Cowturds robbed us, we had that game firmly in hand and let it slip away, I was there man, and I cried like a little sniveling baby for hours afterward .......no way the 98 team was better IMHO ........ :o

I agree, if only we had kept Leeman Bennett we'd probably have a ring or 2 by now. Oh well.

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I agree with both of the above posts.

Man, people forget how huge that 2002 season was. Going up to the frozen tundra and doing that to Green Bay was just unbelievable. I literally had a hard time comprehending it all when it was going on. Beating not only Green Bay, but history.

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Complete BS ......the 1980 team was our most talented team ever, the best team in the NFL that year ........the fkn Cowturds robbed us, we had that game firmly in hand and let it slip away, I was there man, and I cried like a little sniveling baby for hours afterward .......no way the 98 team was better IMHO ........ :o

Tough call but I'll have to take the 1998 team over the 1980 team. Mainly because they won 2 more regular season games than the 1980 team and also went 2-1 in the playoffs to get a Super Bowl berth. The run defense was sick. Best in franchise history. Plus they enough offensive weapons to get it done. That team was 20-4 from the middle of 1997 through 1998. They had plenty talent with Jam, Chandler, Christian, Toebeck, Big Bob, Mathis, Dwight, Tony Martin, Santiago, Jesse, Ray, Cornelius, Brooking, Chuck Smith, Travis Hall, Eugene and more.
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Tough call but I'll have to take the 1998 team over the 1980 team. Mainly because they won 2 more regular season games than the 1980 team and also went 2-1 in the playoffs to get a Super Bowl berth. The run defense was sick. Best in franchise history. Plus they enough offensive weapons to get it done. That team was 20-4 from the middle of 1997 through 1998. They had plenty talent with Jam, Chandler, Christian, Toebeck, Big Bob, Mathis, Dwight, Tony Martin, Santiago, Jesse, Ray, Cornelius, Brooking, Chuck Smith, Travis Hall, Eugene and more.

Look at what Bartkowski did in a 14 game season, 3544 yards and 31 TD's We were very close to having (2) 1,000 yard rushers that year. Look at the turnovers that were forced by our defense that year. Yea, you can argue the fact the 1998 team went farther, but IMHO, that 1980 team overall was the most talented team we ever put on the field bar none .......

QB Steve Bartkowski* 28 5 16 257 for 463, 3,544 yards, 31 td, 16 int, & 25 rushes for 35 yards and 2 td Atlanta Falcons / 1st / 1st pick / 1975

RB Lynn Cain 25 1 16 235 rushes for 914 yards, 8 td, & 24 catches for 223 yards and 1 td Atlanta Falcons / 4th / 100th pick / 1979

FB William Andrews* 25 1 16 265 rushes for 1,308 yards, 4 td, & 51 catches for 456 yards and 1 td Atlanta Falcons / 3rd / 79th pick / 1979

WR Wallace Francis 29 7 16 54 catches for 862 yards, 7 td, & 1 rush for 2 yards and 0 td Buffalo Bills / 5th / 110th pick / 1973

WR Alfred Jenkins* 28 5 16 58 catches for 1,035 yards, 6 td

TE Junior Miller* 23 Rook 14 46 catches for 584 yards, 9 td, & 2 rushes for -2 yards and 0 td Atlanta Falcons / 1st / 7th pick / 1980

LT Mike Kenn*+ 24 2 16 3 fumbles recovered Atlanta Falcons / 1st / 13th pick / 1978

LG Dave Scott 27 4 16 Atlanta Falcons / 3rd / 71st pick / 1976

C Jeff Van Note* 34 11 16 Atlanta Falcons / 11th / 262nd pick / 1969

RG R.C. Thielemann 25 3 16 2 fumbles recovered Atlanta Falcons / 2nd / 36th pick / 1977

RT Warren Bryant 25 3 16 1 fumble recovered Atlanta Falcons / 1st / 6th pick / 1977

Defensive Starters

LDE Jeff Yeates 29 6 14 1 interception, 1 fumble recovered Buffalo Bills / 4th / 103rd pick / 1973

NT Don L. Smith 23 1 9 Atlanta Falcons / 1st / 17th pick / 1979

RDE Jeff Merrow 27 5 16 Atlanta Falcons / 11th / 263rd pick / 1975

LOLB Al Richardson 23 Rook 16 7 interceptions, 3 fumbles recovered Atlanta Falcons / 8th / 201st pick / 1980

LILB Fulton Kuykendall 27 5 8 Atlanta Falcons / 6th / 132nd pick / 1975

LILB Jim Laughlin 22 Rook 6 1 interception, 0 fumbles recovered Atlanta Falcons / 4th / 91st pick / 1980

RILB Buddy Curry 22 Rook 16 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovered Atlanta Falcons / 2nd / 36th pick / 1980

ROLB Joel Williams 24 1 16 2 interceptions, 3 fumbles recovered

LCB Rolland Lawrence 29 7 16 3 interceptions, 4 fumbles recovered

RCB Kenny Johnson 22 Rook 16 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles recovered Atlanta Falcons / 5th / 137th pick / 1980

SS Bob Glazebrook 24 2 9 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovered Oakland Raiders / 11th / 304th pick / 1978

SS Frank Reed 26 4 7 Atlanta Falcons / 8th / 219th pick / 1976

FS Tom Pridemore 24 2 16 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles recovered Atlanta Falcons / 9th / 236th pick / 1978

Special Teams Starters

K Tim Mazzetti 24 2 0 19 of 27 field goals & 46 of 49 extra points

P John James 31 8 0 79 punts for a 39.1 average, 0 blocked

PR Reggie Smith 24 Rook 0 27 punt returns for a 9.7 average and 0 td

KR Reggie Smith 24 Rook 0 25 kick returns for a 20.5 average and 0 td

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The 80 season wasn't a 14 game season. The 80 team had a lot of talent on the offensive side but a bunch of no names on the defensive side.

What are we talking about the most talented Falcon team or the best Falcon team?

I think the writer said best Falcon team. I'm going with the 1998 team. They had the stats and the wins. The 1980 team started out 1-2, then went to 3-3 before they went on that streak. The 1998 team was beating everybody from the start. They came in hot from 1997. The only time they got beat up was against the Jets. They won two playoff games against good teams and went to a Bowl. The 1980 team choked. Mainly cause Bennett went conservative. He wouldn't last a month on these boards with the Madden generation.

If they could play each other tomorrow I think the 1998 team would get the win. It would be close though.

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First thing 1980 was 16 game season not 14.

I love the 1980 team - The team was 4-3 down to the Rams 10-6 late in the 4th when Bartkowski hit Jenkins on a bomb and the Falcons pulled off the improbable 13-10 win - we then won everygame after that until the season closer against the Rams. We seemed unstoppable at one point. I agree we let Coach Bennett go too soon - only 2 losing seasons in 6 years as a Falcons Coach.

But the 1998 team also accomplished alot and some affects are still felt today. 2 1000 yard receivers - hasn't been accomplished since. Won the NFC West Division Title breaking San Fran's streak of 6 straight division titles -- and San Fran has never won another division title since. Super Bowl - only team to ever make it there so far. I have to agree with Pat on this one.

Edited by BruceReville
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I wouldn't take anything away from the 98 team, I just think the Bennett teams could have been yearly contenders if we had kept him. The 98 team was still a work in progress that just showed up at the right time. If we had a better 99, I'd be more apt to agree. **** Rams.

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Complete BS ......the 1980 team was our most talented team ever, the best team in the NFL that year ........the fkn Cowturds robbed us, we had that game firmly in hand and let it slip away, I was there man, and I cried like a little sniveling baby for hours afterward .......no way the 98 team was better IMHO ........ :o

SORRY FREEBIRD, TALENT DOES NOT EQUATE TO THE BEST TEAM. THE BEST TEAM IN THE NFL IN 80' WENT

ON TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL. HAVING A GAME FIRMLY IN HAND ONLY COUNTS IF YOU HAVE IT TO THE FINAL

WHISTLE. I FELT THE SAME PAIN IN 80', I ALSO CRIED. BUT THAT 98' TEAM THEY WERE THE BEST WE'VE

EVER HAD...... BUT HOLD YOUR BREATH, SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!

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I have to go with 98 as well. I wasn't alive to see the 1980 team, so I can't speak from experience of watching them play. The best team I'VE SEEN the Falcons organization put on the field was in 1998. I was so excited to watch our Falcons play in the Super Bowl that year, but that excitement quickly faded as the final seconds ran off the clock in that game. I'll always be proud of that 98 season though, no matter how it ended.

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I agree with both of the above posts.

Man, people forget how huge that 2002 season was. Going up to the frozen tundra and doing that to Green Bay was just unbelievable. I literally had a hard time comprehending it all when it was going on. Beating not only Green Bay, but history.

I had taped this game on VHS and was really glad I had because I would still be taking it in here and there today. HOWEVER, the Mrs. had to tape some lame $hit on The Today Show like the following Monday and shame on me for leaving the Falcons-Packers tape in but she recorded over my game :(

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I had taped this game on VHS and was really glad I had because I would still be taking it in here and there today. HOWEVER, the Mrs. had to tape some lame $hit on The Today Show like the following Monday and shame on me for leaving the Falcons-Packers tape in but she recorded over my game :(

Nooooooooooooooo! I wish I had that game on tape. Shame on you. :(

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It all comes down to what you feel is most important. Talent, records, accomplishments? You can use any of them to find evidence to support a particular incarnation of the Falcons.

Accomplishments makes a pretty good measuring stick though...

The 98 team and the current curse-breaking team are the two most accomplished teams in franchise history. One got to the super bowl, the other broke the longest running curse in professional sports.

I don't feel the need to live in the past right now. We are witness to a new era in Falcons football. Our current team has not only proven they can win but win consistently and despite a horrible schedule and an injury elephant that tore through our ranks in an unbelievable stampede.

Yep. I am a homer. This IS the best team in Falcons history not only because they have done something even the 98 team couldn't do but because unlike 98 they still have the potential to do more.

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NFL Rankings:

1980 Offense

Points - 5th

Yards - 3rd

1998 Offense

Points - 4th

Yards - 7th

1980 Defense

Points - 5th

Yards - 16th

1998 Defense

Points - 4th

Yards - 8th

They both were 1st in turnover ratio, but the 1998 team had higher rankings in point spread and yard spread. Not to mention more talent, more regular season wins, more playoff wins, more conference championships and more Super Bowl appearances.

The 1998 team was the best Falcon team ever. Period.

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O yea, lets talk about the Team that got blown out in the SB against John Elway 12 yrs ago. But then again its not like we have done anything else. in 80 we choked, 02 we won in GB, in 04 we made it 2 tha NFCCG, other than that we havent done squat ****. I mean is there any team Buried in mediocrity more than us, after all 9-7 in considered a good season 4 us.

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It all comes down to what you feel is most important. Talent, records, accomplishments? You can use any of them to find evidence to support a particular incarnation of the Falcons.Accomplishments makes a pretty good measuring stick though...The 98 team and the current curse-breaking team are the two most accomplished teams in franchise history. One got to the super bowl, the other broke the longest running curse in professional sports. I don't feel the need to live in the past right now. We are witness to a new era in Falcons football. Our current team has not only proven they can win but win consistently and despite a horrible schedule and an injury elephant that tore through our ranks in an unbelievable stampede.Yep. I am a homer. This IS the best team in Falcons history not only because they have done something even the 98 team couldn't do but because unlike 98 they still have the potential to do more.

If all of the Falcon plyoff teams could suit up tomorrow in their prime year and get after it in a playoff I would predict this outcome:

1998

1980

2004

2002

1978

1991

2008

1995

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Tough call but I'll have to take the 1998 team over the 1980 team. Mainly because they won 2 more regular season games than the 1980 team and also went 2-1 in the playoffs to get a Super Bowl berth. The run defense was sick. Best in franchise history. Plus they enough offensive weapons to get it done. That team was 20-4 from the middle of 1997 through 1998. They had plenty talent with Jam, Chandler, Christian, Toebeck, Big Bob, Mathis, Dwight, Tony Martin, Santiago, Jesse, Ray, Cornelius, Brooking, Chuck Smith, Travis Hall, Eugene and more.

Slight correction: That team was 21-4 from the middle of '97 thru '98. The 1997 season started with us going 0-7. We went 7-2 to finish the season and then 14-2 during the regular season the following year. That season and a half stands as the best stretch ever in franchise history.

The 1998 team was the best by a long shot.

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Agree with those who say the 80 team was better. The Falcons were the hottest team in the NFL as the season really got going and they had home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Unfortunately the Falcons choked away a good lead and lost to Dallas. I cried my eyes out after that game. But in my opinion that was the best Atlanta Falcon team ever put together.

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