TBT: Atlanta Falcons upset Minnesota Vikings in 1998 NFC Championship Game


We’re throwing it back to the day the Atlanta Falcons won a trip to the Super Bowl. There’s some coincidences between the 1998 and 2016 NFC title games.

The Atlanta Falcons have the opportunity to head back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years. In honor of Sunday’s match-up, we’re going to re-visit the original “Dirty Birds” and their 1998 NFC Championship Game win.

There’s actually a few similarities between the 1998 NFC title game and the one to be played on Sunday. Both games feature the Atlanta Falcons taking on the best from what is now known as the NFC North division. Both games also featured the most prolific offense from their respective NFL regular seasons. Back in 1998, it was the Minnesota Vikings that brought the best scoring offense. That notch today belongs to the Falcons who, in brotherhood, will hopefully experience a different fate come Sunday.

The “Dirty Birds” beat the odds

Gary Anderson’s 38-yard miss with 2:18 remaining in the 1998 NFC title game gave the Atlanta Falcons a chance. Chris Chandler took the ball down 27-20 and led Atlanta on a 72-yard drive capped with a touchdown pass to Terance Mathis. The Minnesota Vikings’ uncharacteristic defensive miscues continued in overtime. A Morten Anderson 38-yard field goal later and the Atlanta Falcons were on the way to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Many remember Gary Anderson went into the NFC title game a perfect 35-for-35 on the season. His fourth quarter field goal was no more than a ‘chip’ shot. Those ’98 Vikings were arguably one of the most dominant teams in NFL history. They were also 9-0 at the Minnesota Metrodome prior to the day. Vegas listed the Atlanta Falcons as an 11-point underdog by kickoff. None of it mattered as the “Dirty Birds” played like a team of destiny that day.

Channeling the ’98 Falcons on January 22, 2017

Atlanta needed every bit of their secondary to shut down then-rookie Randy Moss back in January of 1999. If all goes their way, the Atlanta secondary will come through again against the Packers this Sunday. The Falcons could also use some 1998 ‘mojo’ on the offensive side of the ball as well. 18 years ago, they needed all of five plays to go 80 yards and strike first blood. It was a drive that immediately set the tone and sent a message. The ‘birds completely shook the Metrodome crowd and let the Dennis Green’s sideline know that they would not be intimidated.

Chandler finished the game 27-for-43, for 340 yards, and three touchdown passes. Running back Jamal Anderson carried 23 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Tony Martin caught five balls for 128 yards. Mathis caught six balls for 73 yards and two touchdowns.

Next: Three reasons the Falcons will win the NFC title game

Imagine importing those 1998 stats and dispersing among Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, and Mohamed Sanu vs. Green Bay. I don’t think there’s a shadow of a doubt that the Atlanta Falcons are off to their second Super Bowl trip in franchise history.