The early 1990s for the Atlanta Falcons was punctuated by the excitement of a youthful, talented team and the unmatched personality of then-head coach Jerry Glanville. The beginning of the decade started off favorably with a 10-6 season in 1991 and a road playoff win against divisional adversary New Orleans Saints.
The passing game that season possessed a solid foundation with receivers Michael Haynes and Andre Rison. The running game however was a true running back by committee approach. The leading ball carrier that season was sixth-round rookie out of a school just about under an hour outside of Dallas, Texas, a rare feat in this franchise’s history. Today, our focus turns to that rookie running back in our Forgotten Falcons series: Erric Pegram.
Time in Atlanta: 1991-1994
Falcons statistics: 61 games, 27 starts, 517 carries, 1,981 yards, five rushing touchdowns; 52 catches, 425 yards; 38 kickoff returns, 629 yards
Pegram only had a short tenure as Falcon after being selected in the 1991 NFL Draft. He led all running backs in starts that season as a rookie and eventually led the team in carries with 101. His best game that particular season was an important 78 rushing yard effort in a week 2 20-19 loss to the Vikings.
His sophomore season was pretty uneventful with only one start and 21 carries on the season. While he did participate in all 16 games, Pegram left very little, if any, impact on the season as the Falcons fell short of the playoffs with a 6-10 record a a third place finish in the NFC West.
His outstanding 1993 season, however, was his best during his entire NFL career. Pegram was fourth in the NFL that season in rushing yards with 1,185 yards, besting the likes of Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, and Ricky Watters that season. Among his four 100-yard rushing outings that year, Pegram gave the San Francisco 49ers plenty of issues that season with 192 rushing yards in week three, a season high and one of the best marks in franchise history. That total was not enough to help lead the Falcons to victory as they fell short in a 37-30 shootout, but it was very impressive nonetheless. Pegram also totaled 180 yards on the road late in the season against Cincinnati, as well as 128 yards on road against the Los Angeles Rams in week nine to help lead the Falcons to a 13-0 win.
The 1994 season was not as spectacular for Pegram, with just 358 total rushing yards and one touchdown in 13 games of work (five starts). His Falcon career concluded after the end of the season and Pegram moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a key figure for the Steelers 1995 Super Bowl run.
All in all, Pegram was drafted with fairly low expectations but his rookie season as well as his 1993 campaign allowed him to display some usefulness, and he holds some of the best single-game marks in team history. Despite the down season in 1993 as the Falcons went 6-10, Pegram produced one of the best statistical outputs and found a way to be mentioned among some of the best to ever play, even if it was only for a season. That makes him a worthy nominee for this series.