1998 Atlanta Falcons season
General managerHarold Richardson
Head coachDan Reeves
Rich Brooks (weeks 15–16)
Home fieldGeorgia Dome
Division place1st NFC West
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (vs. 49ers) 20–18
Won NFC Championship (at Vikings) 30–27 (OT)
Lost Super Bowl XXXIII (vs. Broncos) 19–34
Pro BowlersQB Chris Chandler
RB Jamal Anderson
LB Jessie Tuggle
CB Ray Buchanan
S Eugene Robinson

The 1998 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's 33rd in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons qualified for the Super Bowl for the first time under the guidance of second-year head coach Dan Reeves, becoming the first dome team to play in a Super Bowl. The Falcons won their final nine regular season games to earn the #2 seed in the National Football Conference (NFC) for the postseason and the first-week bye. They and the Broncos both had 14–2 records, but the Falcons were the second best in the league because they had a better record against common opponents. They beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round and the #1-seed Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game before losing to Reeves’ old team, the Denver Broncos, 34–19 in Super Bowl XXXIII.[1] They were a perfect 8–0 at home.

Head coach Dan Reeves almost didn't make it to the end of the season. After Week 15, he was diagnosed with multiple blockages to his coronary arteries, necessitating quadruple bypass surgery. Reeves admitted he ignored the warning signs in hopes of finishing the season, but ultimately felt he needed to be checked out. Doctors stated by the time he went for treatment, he may have been “within hours of a catastrophic heart attack.”[2] Defensive coordinator Rich Brooks substituted for him as head coach during Weeks 16 and 17. Reeves returned for the playoffs and finished the season.

The Falcons ranked fourth in the league in points scored (442 points) and surrendered the fourth-fewest points (289) in 1998; the Falcons also led the league in turnover differential at +20. Their +153 point differential is the best in team history. Of Atlanta's fourteen wins, eight of them were decided by at least nine points, with their season superlative 51–23 win to complete their sweep of the Panthers.


NFL draft

Main article: 1998 NFL draft

1998 Atlanta Falcons draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 12 Keith Brooking *  Linebacker Georgia Tech
2 53 Bob Hallen  Center Kent State
3 74 Jammi German  Wide receiver Miami (FL)
4 103 Omar Brown  Defensive back North Carolina
4 114 Tim Dwight  Wide receiver Iowa
6 166 Elijah Williams  Defensive back Florida
7 199 Ephraim Salaam  Offensive tackle San Diego State
7 201 Ken Oxendine  Running back Virginia Tech
7 203 Henry Slay  Defensive tackle West Virginia
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career




1998 Atlanta Falcons staff
Front office
  • President – Taylor Smith
  • Executive Vice President of Football Operations – Dan Reeves
  • General Manager – Harold Richardson
  • Vice President of Football Operations – Ron Hill
  • Director of Player Personnel/College – Reed Johnson
  • Director of Player Personnel/Pro – Chuck Connor
  • Assistant to Head Coach/Pro Personnel – Marvin Bass

Head coaches

  • Head Coach – Dan Reeves
  • Assistant Head Coach – Rich Brooks

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Al Miller
  • Assistant Strength and Conditioning – Tim Jorgensen


1998 Atlanta Falcons roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics


Regular season


This was the first occasion when the Falcons played the New York Giants since 1988,[5] and their first visit to Giants Stadium since 1982. This is due to old NFL scheduling formulas in place prior to 2002, whereby teams had no rotating schedule opposing members of other divisions within their own conference, but instead played interdivisional conference games according to position within a season's table.[6]

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Recap
1 September 6 at Carolina Panthers W 19–14 1–0 Ericsson Stadium Recap
2 September 13 Philadelphia Eagles W 17–12 2–0 Georgia Dome Recap
3 Bye
4 September 27 at San Francisco 49ers L 20–31 2–1 Candlestick Park Recap
5 October 4 Carolina Panthers W 51–23 3–1 Georgia Dome Recap
6 October 11 at New York Giants W 34–20 4–1 Giants Stadium Recap
7 October 18 New Orleans Saints W 31–23 5–1 Georgia Dome Recap
8 October 25 at New York Jets L 3–28 5–2 Giants Stadium Recap
9 November 1 St. Louis Rams W 38–15 6–2 Georgia Dome Recap
10 November 8 at New England Patriots W 41–10 7–2 Foxboro Stadium Recap
11 November 15 San Francisco 49ers W 31–19 8–2 Georgia Dome Recap
12 November 22 Chicago Bears W 20–13 9–2 Georgia Dome Recap
13 November 29 at St. Louis Rams W 21–10 10–2 Trans World Dome Recap
14 December 6 Indianapolis Colts W 28–21 11–2 Georgia Dome Recap
15 December 13 at New Orleans Saints W 27–17 12–2 Louisiana Superdome Recap
16 December 20 at Detroit Lions W 24–17 13–2 Pontiac Silverdome Recap
17 December 27 Miami Dolphins W 38–16 14–2 Georgia Dome Recap
Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.


NFC West
(2) Atlanta Falcons 14 2 0 .875 442 289 W9
(4) San Francisco 49ers 12 4 0 .750 479 328 W1
New Orleans Saints 6 10 0 .375 305 359 L3
Carolina Panthers 4 12 0 .250 336 413 W2
St. Louis Rams 4 12 0 .250 285 378 L2

Notable games

The Falcons' most decisive win of the season came in a 51–23 rout in the Georgia Dome. Jamal Anderson rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown while Chris Chandler threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns with two picks. From Tim Dwight’s 93-yard opening kickoff return touchdown, the Falcons never let Carolina have a sniff of contention, leading 38–3 by the third quarter before cruising home with the win.

Atlanta’s offense rolled up 41 points while the defense limited New England to just ten points at Foxboro Stadium in a game where New England never got closer than a 14–3 score after one quarter and trailed 28–3 at the half. Jamal Anderson ran in two scores, Chris Chandler threw two more, and Chuck Smith grabbed a fumble at his 29 and ran it back for a touchdown. Chandler completed 15 of 22 throws for 240 yards and Anderson rushed for 104 yards. About the only thing that went wrong for the Falcons were two meaningless picks by the Patriots' Ty Law.

The Falcons avenged one of the only two losses they would suffer in the regular season by besting the Niners 31–19 in the Georgia Dome. Steve Young threw for 342 yards and touchdowns to Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice, but Jamal Anderson’s 100-rushing yards and two scores helped the Falcons put away the Niners in a wild fourth quarter in which the two teams combined for 34 points (21 by the Falcons).


Round Date Opponent (seed) Result Record Venue Recap
Divisional January 9, 1999 San Francisco 49ers (4) W 20–18 1–0 Georgia Dome Recap
NFC Championship January 17, 1999 at Minnesota Vikings (1) W 30–27 (OT) 2–0 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Recap
Super Bowl January 31, 1999 Denver Broncos (A1) L 19–34 2–1 Pro Player Stadium Recap

NFC Divisional Playoff: vs. San Francisco 49ers

NFC Divisional Round: San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons – Game summary
1 2 34Total
49ers 0 10 0818
Falcons 7 7 3320

at Georgia Dome, Atlanta

  • Date: January 9, 1999
  • Game time: 12:30 p.m. PDT

The rubber match of Atlanta and San Francisco's 1998 season came in the Georgia Dome a week after the Niners' spectacular last-minute comeback over the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons, though, would not be denied as Jamal Anderson once again hauled the mail with 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Steve Young threw a touchdown to Jerry Rice and ran in a late fourth-quarter score; Ty Detmer threw the ensuing two-point conversion to Greg Clark to put the score at 20–18, but the Falcons never let the Niners any closer for their first playoff win since 1991.

NFC Championship: at Minnesota Vikings

NFC Championship Game: Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings – Game summary
1 2 34OTTotal
Falcons 7 7 310330
Vikings 7 13 07027

at Hubert Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis

  • Date: January 17, 1999
  • Game time: 12:30 p.m. PDT

As of 2020 this remains the greatest win in Falcons history and one of the most amazing upsets in NFL history. The 16–1 Vikings, boasting the league's highest-scoring post-merger offense, were heavy favorites at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and raced to a 20–7 lead in the second quarter off two Randall Cunningham touchdowns (one rushing and a throw to Randy Moss), but at the end of the first half Chris Chandler found Terance Mathis for a 14-yard score. After a Morten Andersen field goal made it 20–17 in the third, the Vikings surged to a 27–17 lead on another Cunningham TD throw (this one to Matthew Hatchette). In the frantic final ten minutes of regulation the Falcons were forced to turn the ball over on downs, but the Vikings fumbled it right back and Andersen kicked another field goal for a 27–20 score. In the final four minutes Gary Anderson, who hadn't missed a field goal all season, shanked a 38-yarder, and suddenly the surging Falcons had a chance, and nailed it when Chandler led the Falcons downfield and connected with Mathis in the endzone with 49 seconds remaining. The Vikings got the ball in overtime but Eugene Robinson stopped a deep pass to Moss and the Falcons got it back on a punt. Chandler led the Falcons downfield again and Andersen nailed a 38-yard field goal at 11:52 of the extra quarter; the 30–27 final sent the Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII.

Super Bowl XXXIII

Super Bowl XXXIII: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
1 2 34Total
Broncos 7 10 01734
Falcons 3 3 01319

at Pro Player Stadium, Miami

  • Date: January 31, 1999
  • Game time: 6:25 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: 73 °F (22.8 °C), clear
Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP DEN ATL
1 9:35 10 48 5:25 ATL 32-yard field goal by Morten Andersen 0 3
1 3:55 10 80 5:40 DEN Howard Griffith 1-yard touchdown run, Jason Elam kick good 7 3
2 9:17 11 63 4:58 DEN 26-yard field goal by Elam 10 3
2 4:54 1 80 0:13 DEN Rod Smith 80-yard touchdown reception from John Elway, Elam kick good 17 3
2 2:25 7 38 2:29 ATL 28-yard field goal by Andersen 17 6
4 14:56 5 24 1:50 DEN Griffith 1-yard touchdown run, Elam kick good 24 6
4 11:20 3 48 1:17 DEN Elway 3-yard touchdown run, Elam kick good 31 6
4 11:01 ATL Tim Dwight 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Andersen kick good 31 13
4 7:08 7 36 3:53 DEN 37-yard field goal by Elam 34 13
4 2:04 16 76 5:04 ATL Terance Mathis 3-yard touchdown reception from Chris Chandler, 2-point pass failed 34 19
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 34 19


  1. ^ Winkeljohn, Matt. "A look back at the Falcons' Super season of 1998". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  2. ^ George, Thomas (December 15, 1998). "PRO FOOTBALL; Reeves Undergoes Heart Surgery". New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  3. ^ "1998 Atlanta Falcons draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  4. ^ "1998 Atlanta Falcons starters and roster". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  5. ^ Urena, Ivan; Pro Football Schedules: A Complete Historical Guide from 1933 to the Present, p. 221 ISBN 0786473517
  6. ^ History of the NFL’s Structure and Formats, Part Two