In my last story, I wrote about the inaugural game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons which was played in 1966.
The Packers won that game 56-3 versus the expansion Falcons at Milwaukee County Stadium. I was among the 48,623 folks who attended the game that October 23.
All told, the Packers and Falcons have played each other 28 times in the regular season, with Green Bay holding a 15-13 edge over Atlanta.
In the postseason, the two teams have met three times, and all have occurred over the past 21 years. The Packers lead that series two games to one.
The fourth postseason game will occur this Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome, as the Packers and Falcons will meet in the 2016 NFC title game.
In the regular series history between the two teams, the Packers and Falcons played each other seven consecutive years to start, beginning in the expansion year of the Dirty Birds in 1966.
The Packers won the first five games of the series before Atlanta finally beat Green Bay 28-21 in 1971 at Fulton County Stadium.
The Packers and Falcons have had some very memorable games over the years and most of those have occurred in the last 20 years or so.
But in 1983, the offense of the Packers was truly outstanding. 1983 was the year when the Packers beat the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins 48-47 at Lambeau Field on Monday night football.
Yes, the offense of the Packers was very potent in 1983, but so too was the very porous defense the team had then.
That led to another memorable game between the Packers and Falcons at Fulton County Stadium that year on November 27.
Quarterback Lynn Dickey threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Unfortunately, Dickey also threw three picks, the last of which was returned for a score in the 47-41 loss by the Pack in overtime.
Meanwhile, the Packers allowed a little-known quarterback by the name of Mike Moroski to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
The next really memorable regular season game between the Packers and Falcons occurred on December 18, 1994 at Milwaukee County Stadium.
The game was memorable for a number of reasons. For one, the game was the last Green Bay game ever played in Milwaukee, as the Packers decided to play all eight home games each season at Lambeau Field starting in 1995.
Up until then, the Packers had played five home games at Lambeau and three at County Stadium when there was a 16-game schedule.
In a 14-game schedule starting from 1961 through 1977, the Packers played four home games in Green Bay and three in Milwaukee.
The Packers first started playing games in Milwaukee starting in 1933 and that association lasted through this game versus the Falcons in 1994.
On this December day in Milwaukee, the Packers were fighting for their playoff lives. A victory would clinch the team a Wild Card spot, but it didn’t look good with just seconds remaining in the game and the Packers down 17-14.
The Packers had no timeouts and were at the nine-yard line of the Falcons with a third down and two situation with 21 second left. Quarterback Brett Favre was told not to run in that situation by head coach Mike Holmgren during their final timeout, because time would run out if he was tackled in the field of play.
So, what did Favre do? He ran of course. No. 4 first went back to pass and then broke to the right and headed up field and dove into the end zone for the game-winning score as the Packers won 21-17 and clinched a playoff spot.
The Packers and Falcons played another very unforgettable game at Lambeau Field on opening day of the 2002 season. The Packers ended up winning 37-34 in overtime, as Favre threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Michael Vick of the Falcons threw for 209 yards and a score, plus rushed for 72 yards and another score.
Vick and the Falcons would get the last laugh at Lambeau later that postseason. More on that later.
Since Aaron Rodgers has become the starting quarterback of the Packers and Matt Ryan has done the same with the Falcons, the two teams have played in a number of memorable games.
In the five games that Rodgers and Ryan have faced each other in the regular season season, the Falcons have won three of those contests. But in all three wins by the Falcons during that period, the deciding margin was by three points or less each time.
Rodgers seems to love playing against Atlanta. In those five regular season games, Rodgers has thrown 13 touchdown passes versus just one pick for 1,626 yards. That adds up to a 118.0 passer rating.
Conversely, Ryan also likes to play against the Pack. In six regular season games against the Packers, Ryan has thrown 13 touchdown passes versus five interceptions for 1,427 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 99.7.
Plus, while Rodgers was out in 2013 with a broken clavicle, the Packers were led by backup quarterback Matt Flynn versus Ryan in a very memorable 22-21 win by the Packers at Lambeau Field that kept alive the NFC North title hopes for the Pack that year.
Before we talk about the postseason history of the two teams, let’s take a look at the Week 8 matchup between Rodgers and Ryan this year, when Atlanta won 33-32 at the Georgia Dome.
Both Rodgers and Ryan were simply outstanding in the game, which may be exactly what we see this Sunday in the NFC title game, also at the Georgia Dome.
Rodgers threw four touchdown passes without a pick for 246 yards. His quarterback rating in the game was 125.5. Plus, those numbers occurred without Randall Cobb, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery in the lineup.
No. 12 also added 60 yards rushing.
Ryan meanwhile, threw three touchdown passes without an interception for 288 yards. That added up to a passer rating of 129.5.
The very first postseason game between the Packers and Falcons occurred in the 1995 postseason at Lambeau Field on New Year’s Eve.
The Falcons started fast, as quarterback Jeff George threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Eric Metcalf. Metcalf would later have have another not so great moment in another postseason game between the two teams.
But the Packers roared back by outscoring the Falcons 28-3 through the end of the third quarter. Favre threw two touchdown passes, while rookie Antonio Freeman returned a punt 76 yards for another score during that period.
Favre threw a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to running back Dorsey Levens, as the Packers went on to win 37-20.
But the next time the Falcons played at Lambeau in the postseason, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience for Packer Nation.
Up until that 2002 postseason game played on January 4, 2003, the Packers had never lost a home playoff game in the state of Wisconsin, as they were a perfect 13-0.
The Packers were beat up going into the game with injuries and quickly fell behind 24-0. Special teams didn’t help as the Falcons blocked a Josh Bidwell punt for a touchdown, plus Metcalf, who by that time was a Packer, muffed an Atlanta punt which led to another touchdown.
When it was all said and done, the Packers were throttled by Vick and the Falcons 27-7 in a very ugly loss.
The next postseason game between the Packers and Falcons would pit Rodgers and Ryan against each other in a 2010 divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome.
That very memorable game may have been the greatest game ever played by Rodgers (both in the regular season and postseason). Rodgers completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers had a whopping 136.8 passer rating in the game.
No. 12 also did not throw a pick, plus rushed for another touchdown.
Ryan did not have his best game that night in Georgia. No. 2 threw for 186 yards and a touchdown, plus tossed two interceptions to Tramon Williams, one of which was returned for a pick-six by No. 38.
Ryan also lost a fumble in the game.
The result? A resounding 48-21 victory by the No. 6 seeded Packers over the No. 1 seeded Falcons.
Time will tell what will occur this Sunday afternoon in the NFC title game, a game which will be the last game ever played in the Georgia Dome.
I will be doing a scouting report on the game later this week, but I do expect both Rodgers and Ryan to play well.
That being said, whoever plays the best in the matchup between Rodgers and Ryan will most likely be the quarterback who will lead his team to Houston for Super Bowl LI.