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Jan. 17: Falcons win NFC Championship

The Atlanta Falcons won their first NFC Championship game but lost their next two.
The Atlanta Falcons won their first NFC Championship game but lost their next two.
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Here’s what happened.

On January 17, 1999 the Atlanta Falcons won the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game for the National Football League (NFL). The victory earned them the right to play in Super Bowl XXXIII. It was Atlanta’s first appearance in the Conference Championship, and (so far) the only win.

Here’s why it matters.

The Falcons (14-2 regular season) faced the Minnesota Vikings (15-1 regular season) and an explosive offense led by quarterback Randall Cunningham. Atlanta came from behind to tie at 27-27, led by quarterback Chris Chandler on offense and the NFL’s 4th-ranked defense. The Falcons scored the winning field goal in overtime.

Super Bowl XXXIII was played on January 31, 1999 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Denver Broncos beat the Falcons 34-19, for a second consecutive NFL championship. At 38 years old, John Elway became the oldest player so far to win the Super Bowl MVP award. Dan Reeves, Elway’s coach for Super Bowl XXI, XXII, and XXIV, was Falcons head coach.

Atlanta lost its two other NFC Championship appearances: 10-27 to the Philadelphia Eagles on January 23, 2005; and 24-28 to the San Francisco 49ers on January 20, 2013. The Falcons failed to make the 2013-14 Playoffs.

Here’s an interesting fact!

The 1999 NFC Championship was played at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A final NFL game was played there on December 29, 2013, and demolition began soon after. A new stadium is scheduled to open at the site for the 2016 season.

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