The Atlanta Falcons are a snake-bitten franchise that has never been the last team standing in 54 years of professional football since their inception. That’s not to say that they haven’t come agonizingly close in the past.
Five Falcons teams that came closer than all others were the squads in 1980, 1998, 2004, 2012, and 2016. We asked you guys which of these teams was the best, and there was a majority consensus answer:
60% of you voted for the 2016 team that had a 28-3 lead in the third quarter of Super Bowl 51 and somehow didn’t win (don’t ask me how that happened, I still have no idea). One could argue that no Super Bowl loser was ever closer to winning the Big Game than the 2016 Falcons (no, this shouldn’t make anyone feel better).
The 1998 team, which placed third in the FanPulse was the only other Falcons team to get to the Super Bowl, doing so with an improbable win against the Minnesota Vikings in the 1998 NFC Championship Game. They lost by double digit to John Elway’s Broncos one night after star safety Eugene Robinson was arrested for soliciting a prostitute (you can’t make this stuff up). To this day, no other Falcons team has won more than the 14 regular season games that the ‘98 team won.
The 2012 Falcons came closest to getting to the Super Bowl among all other Atlanta teams - they blew a 17-0 lead to the San Francisco 49ers at home in the NFC Championship Game. They were one of three Falcons teams to finish the regular season with the best record in the NFC.
The 2004 Falcons, led by the DVD backfield trio of Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, and T.J. Duckett, were the only other Falcons team to make it to the NFC Championship Game before getting outmatched against Donovan McNabb’s Eagles.
The 1980 iteration of the Falcons was easily the best team in Atlanta’s earlier years. They were the only 1-seed in the team’s history until the 2010 Falcons came along, and they were arguably the best team in the NFL that year. They blew a 24-10 second half lead in the Divisional Round against the Dallas Cowboys in what was apparently an omen of things to come in the franchise’s history.
I feel the need to take a shower after looking back on all of that.