Atlanta FalconsThe Falcons’ story began in 1966 as an expansion team in the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Their first three seasons were a tough start, with the team losing at least 11 of their 14 games each year. But this struggle was just the prologue to a story of resilience and improvement. The team’s defensive efforts slowly began to pay off, led by linebacker Tommy Nobis and defensive end Claude Humphrey. The 1973 season saw the Falcons post a 9–5 record, just missing out on the playoffs. The team’s trajectory took a new turn in 1975 when they selected quarterback Steve Bartkowski with the first pick of the NFL draft. Bartkowski’s impact was immediate, setting franchise records in passing and leading the Falcons to their first postseason berth in 1978. With Bartkowski at the helm and William Andrews in the backfield, Atlanta snagged its first division title in 1980. Despite these successes, the Falcons were faced with postseason disappointments and a slump in the mid-80s. The franchise’s play dipped, and the team finished with double-digit losses in six out of seven seasons between 1984 and 1990. Enter the 1990s, a decade of excitement and flair for the Falcons. The team became a spectacle with dazzling players like cornerback Deion Sanders, wide receiver Andre Rison, and the lively head coach Jerry Glanville. A 10-win season in 1991 still resulted in postseason disappointment, but the Falcons were becoming a force to be reckoned with. 1998 was a standout year as the team achieved a club-best 14–2 record, thanks to key players like Chris Chandler and Jamal Anderson. This balanced squad upset the Minnesota Vikings to reach their first Super Bowl, though they would lose to the Denver Broncos. The following years were marked by ups and downs, from plummeting to a 5–11 record after the Super Bowl to the Michael Vick era’s successes. During Vick’s time, the Falcons handed the Green Bay Packers their first home playoff loss and reached a second NFC championship game in 2005. 2008 a new era began with first-year head coach Mike Smith, rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, and running back Michael Turner. The Falcons posted an 11–5 record, and Matt Ryan soon became a key figure for the franchise. The 2010s saw the Falcons bounce between playoff success and frustrating losses. Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez earned their first career postseason wins, only to lose the NFC championship game to the 49ers. 2016 was a roller-coaster year, marked by the Falcons piling up one of the highest point totals in NFL history and reaching their second Super Bowl. Still, the season ended in heartbreak, with the Falcons giving up the largest lead in Super Bowl history and losing in overtime to the Patriots. The Falcons have seen some outstanding individual performances through the ups and downs. Notable records include Gerald Riggs’ 6,631 career rushing yards, Matt Ryan’s incredible 59,735 passing yards, and Julio Jones’ 848 career receptions. In Defense, Claude Humphrey has the most sacks, 99.5. Rolland Lawrence’ has the most career Interceptions with 39 interceptions. With current team owner Arthur Blank, the Falcons look to the future, building upon their rich history and aiming for success in the coming seasons.
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