The Falcons continue their string of NFC play with a faceoff against the Washington Commanders this weekend. This series has been the tale of two differing time periods, in which each team has landed some level of dominance over the other. As of today, however, Washington owns the series history lead with a 16-10-1 mark.
Atlanta could be envious of the team-that-once-had-a-different-name’s success throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, as they made the playoffs five times in each decade and registered seven winning seasons in the ‘80s alone, including two Super Bowl wins and four overall Super Bowl appearances over that 20-year stretch. The Falcons, meanwhile, had one playoff win in their first 24 years of their existence, from 1966 through 1989.
The discrepancy in that success was evident whenever these teams faced off against one another, with Washington treating the Falcons as little more than a punching bag for the most part. They went 5-0-1 in the first six ever meetings, before the Birds finally broke through with a big win in 1978 which helped them earn their first ever playoff appearance. Washington then won four out of the next six in the ‘80s, before going 4-1 head to head in the ‘90s for an overall 14-4-1 record before the turn of the millennia.
The 1991 season was particularly rough for Atlanta when facing Washington. First, they lost 56-17 in the regular season, before getting blown out 24-7 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Washington went on to win the Super Bowl that year, making it three titles in a 10-year stretch, behind the most dominant offensive line in football history — the hogs.
Atlanta finally found some success head to head in recent times, winning six consecutive games between 2006-2018, before that streak was finally put to a halt in 2021.
It was a clash of 1-2 teams at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the Falcons played host to the newly named Washington Football Team, who were led by Gwinnett County product and Collins Hill High School Alum Taylor Heinecke.
Cordarrelle Patterson put on a masterclass performance, catching three touchdowns from Matt Ryan to help keep the Birds in the lead throughout most of the game, with an exception of a three-minute period to begin the second half.
Heinecke had his own memorable performance in his homecoming, scoring three touchdowns of his own while totaling more than 300 overall yards. His last score to Terry McLaurin brought Washington to within two with 3:52 remaining, but a failure on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt put Atlanta firmly in the driver’s seat.
Unfortunately, Arthur Smith went into full
coward conservative mode up only two, calling back-to-back runs and a short pass before punting the ball away on the other side of the two-minute warning. It took Washington less than a minute to get into field goal range, but Dustin Hopkins didn’t even need to be tested as a horrendous play from Deion Jones allowed JD McKissic to take a short pass all 30 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Atlanta fell to 1-3, but bounced back with three wins in their next four before fizzling out down the stretch. Washington immediately went on a four-game losing streak before embarking on a four-game winning streak, before they also fizzled down the stretch to match the same 7-10 record Atlanta ended the season with.