It’s been the tale of two eras in this series.
The Atlanta Falcons and Washington Football Team come into this game with a lot in common — neither has gotten off to the start they wanted and are sitting at a 1-2 record, and the singular win for both teams came on the back of a last second field goal against the New York Giants.
The big picture similarities between the franchises are a lot fewer and further between when looking at their histories, however. These teams have not been very good for an extended period of time at the same time, as their peaks and valleys have hardly intersected. That’s pretty clear when looking at the all time series history.
The Football Team leads the all-time series history with a 15-10-1 record, but it’s been a tale of two time periods when diving deeper into these games. Up until 2006, Atlanta hardly had any success in this matchup and actually went winless in the first six meetings from 1966-1977. Washington had a dominant 15-4-1 record against the Birds between 1966-2005.
Washington especially beat up on Atlanta in the early-to-mid ‘90s when they won five consecutive meetings, including a 24-7 win in the Divisional Round of the 1991 playoffs, after winning the regular season matchup 56-17 that season. They would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Washington did enjoy homefield advantage in every game played against Atlanta in the ‘90s (there were five).
The pendulum shifted in the Matt Ryan era, however. Ryan has never lost against Washington in his career, sporting a 5-0 record in a bit of get-back for the Falcons franchise in this series. Counting the win Atlanta had in 2006, the Birds are on a six-game winning streak against Washington.
Outside of 1991, 2012 was the only year where these teams matched up in a regular season where each wound up making the playoffs. It was an October game in Maryland that the Falcons won 24-17, thanks to a dominant fourth quarter, to move to 5-0 on the season. That game is better remembered for Washington’s star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III getting knocked out of the contest because of a vicious (and clean) hit from Sean Weatherspoon.
Atlanta once again beat Washington in 2015 to move to 5-0 on the season in what was a tight back and forth contest that was decided by a game-winning Robert Alford pic 6 in overtime.
Last time these two teams met was in Week 9 of the 2018 season, and it was by far the most complete game the Falcons played that year. Decimated by early season injuries which resulted in a 1-4 start, the Birds were bouncing back a little bit and secured their third consecutive win to move to 4-4 following this win.
Atlanta got out to a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter and never looked back. The lead swelled to as much as 21 in the third quarter, as Atlanta enjoyed its most comfortable victory of the year. Matt Ryan was incredibly sharp with 350 passing yards and four touchdown passes.
That was also the game where Julio Jones scored his first touchdown of the season after having to answer quite a few questions from the media about why the scores weren’t coming. Julio finished that year with a very respectable eight touchdowns.
In the moment, this win seemed like the middle of a great run which would help the Falcons overcome adversity and get into the playoffs for the third consecutive year, but in hindsight it was the last moment of competitiveness in the Dan Quinn era. Atlanta would go on to drop their next five consecutive games before starting 2019 out 1-7 and compounding failure after failure with an 0-5 start in 2020.
This defeat for Washington also started a string of seven defeats in nine games which derailed their season.
Since 2017, the Falcons have never come closer to getting above the .500 mark than they were after this victory.