Super Bowl LI: Falcons vs Patriots

Lee Peters, Sports Writer, Photographer

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The first time (and the last time) the Atlanta Falcons were in the Super Bowl, I was 5 months old, and many of you reading this probably weren’t even born yet.

 

That was Super Bowl 33.

To cap off the 1998 season, Super Bowl XXXIII featured the scrappy underdog NFC champion Atlanta Falcons facing off against the powerhouse AFC champion Denver Broncos, and the League’s best quarterback, and future Hall of Famer, John Elway.

If that sounds familiar to you, you aren’t alone. This year, once again the Atlanta Falcons are representing the NFC, and are the underdogs against one of the greatest dynasties ever seen in sports, the Brady-Belichik New England Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady is unarguably one of the best and most consistent players in the history of the NFL, and Coach Bill Belichick is a mastermind of the sport.

 

But that is not where the similarities end.

In the 1997 season (The year before Super Bowl XXXIII) the Falcons went 7-9, a typical first year for the new coach, Dan Reeves. In the 2015 season (The year before Super Bowl LI) the Falcons went 8-8, with first year head coach Dan Quinn. In their respective second seasons, Reeves went 14-2, securing a first round bye, beating the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings, and securing a spot in the 1998 Super Bowl. Dan Quinn had an 11-5 record, securing a first round bye, beating the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay packers to secure a spot in the 2017 Super Bowl.

In 1998 the Denver Broncos were reigning Super Bowl champions, with a stellar 14-2 season under their belts. They were 7.5 points favorites against the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII, which they won 34-19.

In 2017 the New England Patriots are coming off of a 14-2 season, with the fewest points allowed in the league, and are only 3 point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons, despite all of the national narratives (outside of Georgia) being “Brady ready to bring home his fifth ring”. This season, in Super Bowl 51 the Falcons hope to right the wrongs that were done 18 years ago. The players, as well as the fans, are hungry for a championship. The Patriots may have the upper hand in skill and experience, but to them this is just another game. To Atlanta this is history, and Atlanta may be far from historic, but this year is when the city hopes to change that. Atlanta, a city with one collective championship across all major sports, which came in 1995 to the Atlanta Braves, is ready to fight for a second. Even if the battle is David vs Goliath.

 

RISE UP

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