By Aaron Jackson
We now know the Patriots fate; they will be playing the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51. Much like New England, I like to prep, so while they’re already watching game film at Gillette, this seems like a good time to give you five facts you may not know about Atlanta. (Bonus Fact: Did you know that the Falcon’s logo doubles as an F?)
1. Did you know that the Atlanta Falcons failed to post back to back winning seasons for the first 40 years of existence in the league? There’s not a lot of consistent success with this football team. Even this group of Falcons struggled, finishing under 500 two years in a row before going 8-8 last season.
2. The last time they made the Super Bowl was in 1999, with Chris Chandler leading the way at quarterback. They would lose to the power house Denver Broncos, who featured John Elway and Terrell Davis and won their second straight Super Bowl pretty easily, 34-19.
3. Falcon’s quarterback Matt Ryan, (a Boston College graduate by the way) once played against the Maine Black Bears, failing to score a touchdown in the game. Ryan and Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady regularly text back and forth.
4. While Tom Brady’s season this year was incredible, it pales in comparison to Ryan’s, and that’s continued into the playoffs. The Falcons’ QB carries the 3rd highest all time quarterback rating in the playoffs heading into the Super Bowl, currently at 132.6. Only Joe Montana (142.5 – 1989) and Tony Eason (135.6 – 1985) were better in their prospective playoff runs. Patriots’ fans likely remember Eason not for his play that postseason as much as his inability against the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl plus his mediocre stats as a starter for New England. (Even with those numbers, Patriots’ head coach Raymond Berry was still torn on who to start in Super Bowl XX.)
5. Ryan, at 31 years old, took a while to get to his first Super Bowl but he may be the most accomplished passer ever to be making his first appearance. His 37,701 career passing yards are more than any other quarterbacks making their first appearance. He’s also beaten 30 of the 32 teams currently in the league, though he is 0-2 against New England.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.