We’re sending the Falcons and Jets to London in what should be considered an international act of aggression by the National Football League.
Atlanta and New York are two teams familiar with disappointment, but not so familiar with one another. The two have met on the football field just 12 times in their respective histories, with the Falcons owning a narrow 7-5 lead in that series.
Up until the Matt Ryan era, the two most successful regular seasons in Falcons history came in 1980 (12-4) and 1998 (14-2; still the most successful to this day). The Jets actually beat the Falcons in each of those seasons, including a 28-3 walloping in 1998, after which the Dirty Birds went on an 11-game winning streak en route to the Super Bowl.
That 1998 Jets victory tied the series at 4-4, and since the turn of the millennia these teams have faced off just four times, with the Falcons having a 3-1 edge. Their win in 2009 was the start of an end-of-season three-game winning streak which helped the franchise achieve its first ever back to back winning seasons.
The one win the Jets did have in this series since 1998 came on Monday Night Football at the Georgia Dome in 2013, when Geno Smith had one of the most efficient games of his career and led a game-winning drive to set up a field goal as time expired. That was the game where Julio Jones broke a screw in his foot to sideline him for the rest of the season.
It was a rain soaked afternoon in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 2017, when the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons traveled up north in the midst of a three-game losing streak which came at the hands of every other AFC East team.
The rain played a factor as quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Josh McCown combined to fumble the ball five times. Ryan lost two of his fumbles, resulting in a -2 turnover margin for the Falcons, which forced them to play from behind all game.
The Birds didn’t take their first lead until early in the fourth quarter, when Matt Ryan connected with Mohamed Sanu on a crucial 3rd-and-goal touchdown pass from the 8-yard-line after Tevin Coleman had a 52-yard rush to set up the red zone opportunity.
Atlanta’s defense hunkered down in the period, allowing only a field goal to help complete a very important comeback win.
The Falcons started to figure some things out with that win, after merely treading water the first seven weeks. That was the start of a run of four wins in five games en route to a 10-6 season and a berth in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, this loss was the third of three in a row for the Jets, who started that season 3-2 and finished it 5-11.