The Falcons make the trip up to East Rutherford, New Jersey for a clash against the AFC team that calls MetLife Stadium home — the New York Jets. The Jets are one of eight teams against whom Atlanta owns a winning record, at 8-5 all time. The .615 winning percentage is the third-highest for the Birds against any other NFL team, as they have only been more successful against the Chargers and Panthers.
Atlanta won the first ever matchup, in 1973, in a game where quarterback Bob Lee completed just eight passes but two for touchdowns, and the defense intercepted Joe Namath thrice en route to a 28-20 victory in the midst of the Falcons’ most successful season ever under head coach Norm Van Brocklin (9-5).
The Jets exacted some revenge in the 1980s, winning three out of four matchups before Atlanta won two out of three in the 1990s. It should be noted that the Jets delivered one of just two defeats to the Falcons in that magical 1998 season, which to this day remains a franchise best 14-2 campaign. A 28-3 scoreline in Week 8 was their final defeat before the Dirty Birds rattled off 11 consecutive wins leading into the Super Bowl.
Things were split even at 4-4 before the Falcons took firm control, in the 2000s, winning four out of five matchups since the turn of the millennia. New York’s lone victory in 2013 was a painful one for Atlanta — Geno Smith led a late game winning drive to seal a 30-28 victory on Monday Night Football, during an evening where Julio Jones suffered a season ending foot injury.
Both the Falcons and Jets were reeling one quarter into the 2021 season, each sitting at 1-3, going into a London matchup.
Atlanta scored on each of their first three drives — including Kyle Pitts’ first ever touchdown reception — to take a quick 17-0 lead early in the second quarter and looked to be moving in for a potential kill shot following a Jaylinn Hawkins interception, before a Hayden Hurst red zone fumble gave New York some life in a game which was 20-3 at the half.
The Falcons’ offense stalled for much of the second quarter and was not helped by a Mike Davis fumble just outside the red zone in the third quarter, as the Jets worked their way back into the contest behind two touchdowns to make it 20-17 with 6:55 left.
A potent Matt Ryan 39-yard pass to Pitts which opened the following possession is exactly what Atlanta needed to calm things down as that drive culminated with a Davis touchdown run to pretty much put things away.
The Falcons ended up going 7-10 while the Jets had a disastrous 4-13 campaign behind rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. Both teams continue to be in playoff droughts with Atlanta’s last post season appearance coming in 2017 and New York’s happening all the way back in 2010.