1966 Atlanta Falcons season
The 1966 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's inaugural season in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons finished in seventh place in the NFL Eastern Conference with a record of 3–11, ahead of only the New York Giants.
|1966 Atlanta Falcons season|
|Head coach||Norb Hecker|
|Owner||Rankin M. Smith Sr.|
|Home field||Atlanta Stadium|
|Conference place||7th NFL Eastern|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
|Pro Bowlers||LB Tommy Nobis|
The Falcons attempted to acquire Green Bay Packers running back Jim Taylor. There were tensions in Green Bay because the Packers first round pick, Jim Grabowski would be groomed to take over for Taylor. The signing of Grabowski upset Taylor but he stated he would leave Green Bay once his contract expired, therefore the Falcons could not acquire the running back.
Due to the addition of the team for the 1966 NFL Season, the Falcons were allotted the first pick in all twenty rounds of the 1966 NFL draft, as well as five compensatory picks and the end of the first five rounds.
|1||16||Randy Johnson||Quarterback||Texas A&I|
|2||17||Nick Rassas||Defensive Back||Notre Dame|
|2||32||Jerry Jones||Tackle||Bowling Green|
|3||33||Mike Dennis||Running Back||Mississippi|
|3||48||Phil Sheridan||Wide Receiver||Notre Dame|
|4||49||Ken Reaves||Defensive Back||Virginia State|
|4||64||Willie Asbury||Running Back||Kent State|
|5||65||Bill Wolski||Running Back||Notre Dame|
|5||80||Martin Kahn||Tackle||North Texas State|
|6||81||Charley Casey||Wide Receiver||Florida|
|7||96||William Johnson||Running Back||University of the South|
|9||126||Bob Sanders||Center||North Texas State|
|13||186||Bob Collins||Tackle||South Carolina|
|15||216||Tom Tolleson||Wide Receiver||Alabama|
|18||261||Doug Korver||Center||Southern Iowa|
|19||276||Walt Mainer||Defensive Back||Xavier|
|20||291||Bob Riggle||Defensive Back||Penn State|
|1966 Atlanta Falcons staff|
|1966 Atlanta Falcons final roster|
The Falcons played their first game (preseason) on August 1, 1966, against the Philadelphia Eagles before a crowd of 26,072 at Atlanta Stadium, a two-point Falcons loss, 9–7. In their inaugural regular season, Atlanta played each of the fourteen other teams in the league once. The Falcons lost their first nine regular season games; their first win was on the road against the New York Giants, 27–16, on November 20. Former Giant Ernie Wheelwright scored two touchdowns receiving and ran for 51 more yards as QB Randy Johnson hit for a trio of touchdowns.
Their first ever home victory was over the St. Louis Cardinals, 16–10, before 57,169 on December 11. The Falcons ended their inaugural season at 3–11, yet Tommy Nobis won the NFL Rookie of the Year Award and became the first Falcon named to the Pro Bowl.
|1||September 11||Los Angeles Rams||L 19–14||0–1|
|2||September 18||at Philadelphia Eagles||L 23–10||0–2|
|3||September 25||at Detroit Lions||L 28–10||0–3|
|4||October 2||Dallas Cowboys||L 47–14||0–4|
|5||October 9||at Washington Redskins||L 33–20||0–5|
|6||October 16||San Francisco 49ers||L 44–7||0–6|
|7||October 23||at Green Bay Packers||L 56–3||0–7|
|8||October 30||Cleveland Browns||L 49–17||0–8|
|10||November 13||Baltimore Colts||L 19–7||0–9|
|11||November 20||at New York Giants||W 27–16||1–9|
|12||November 27||at Chicago Bears||L 23–6||1–10|
|13||December 4||at Minnesota Vikings||W 20–13||2–10|
|14||December 11||St. Louis Cardinals||W 16–10||3–10|
|15||December 18||Pittsburgh Steelers||L 57–33||3–11|
- A bye week was necessary in 1966, as the league expanded to an odd-number (15) of teams; one team was idle each week.
|NFL Eastern Conference|
|St. Louis Cardinals||8||5||1||.615||7–5–1||264||265||L3|
|New York Giants||1||12||1||.077||1–11–1||263||501||L8|
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.
Awards and recordsEdit
- When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss,p. 385, Simon & Schuster, 1999, ISBN 978-0-684-84418-3
- "Fledgling Falcons lose, but scare Philadelphia". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. UPI. August 2, 1966. p. 7.
- "Falcons drop close game; grid squabbles continue". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. August 2, 1966. p. 13.
- "Falcons finally make it - cut down Giants for first victory". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. Associated Press. November 21, 1966. p. 8.
- "Major Events in Falcons History" Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, NFL
- "Atlanta 'stacks 'Cards' against St. Louis, 16-10". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. Associated Press. December 12, 1966. p. 8.