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A History: Jets vs. Falcons

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons lead the all-time series 6-4, while the Jets have outscored Atlanta 179-156.

October 12, 1980: In just the second ever meeting between the two—and first in seven years—the New York Jets (0-5) were in Atlanta to play the Falcons (3-2). 1980 was not a good year for the Jets. They entered this Week 6 match-up against Atlanta at 0-5 and were 7.0 point underdogs. This game, however, was a lot closer than people anticipated. It was a slog. New York running back Scott Dierking rushed his way into the end zone from one yard out for the game's opening score in the first quarter. Things slowed down greatly after the Jets' quick start, as Atlanta was shut out for the first half and the score at halftime was a meek 7-0. Richard Todd threw the ball 19 times, completing half of his passes for just 104 yards. The Falcons were even messier on offense, as they turned the ball over four times and were shutout into the fourth quarter. Just when it looked as if the Jets would come away with the win, Atlanta was able to get all the way to the Jets one-yard line, where Lynn Cain punched it in for the game-tying touchdown. The Jets responded, though, when Kevin Long rushed in from a yard out to give the Jets a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish. All three scores in this game came on one-yard touchdown runs, and New York recorded it's first win against the Atlanta Falcons.

October 23, 1983: With both teams having losing records early in the season, the Jets (3-4) and Falcons (2-5) met once again at Shea Stadium. After a scoreless first quarter, the 3.5 point favorite Jets struck first on the strength of a 78-yard touchdown sprint by Bruce Harper and, just like in their past meeting, it was 7-0 at the half. Things picked up in the third quarter as both Scott Dierking and Mike Augustyniak rushed for touchdowns, giving New York a 21-0 edge. Later in the quarter, Steve Bartowski threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Billy Johnson. While it seemed fairly meaningless at the time, there was an entire quarter left, and it proved to be just the beginning. Trailing 21-14 in the fourth, Atlanta suddenly bursted back to life, as Steve Bartowski threw another touchdown, this time to William Andrews, cutting to lead to seven. After the Jets offense continued to stall, Billy Johnson took a Chuck Ramsey punt 71 yards down the field and into the end zone, tying the game at 21 all. While the New York offense continued to sputter, Bartowski kept driving Atlanta down the field. And while they weren't able to convert these drives into touchdowns, Mick Luckhurst was able to hit a pair of field goals, giving Atlanta a stunning 27-21 lead late in the contest. Jets QB Richard Todd was not able to muster up a comeback and New York dropped a heartbreaker. This performance by Steve Bartowski was the last time an Atlanta quarterback threw for 300+ yards against the Jets.

October 25, 1998: While the Jets (3-3) started the year with a .500 record, they were 6.5 point favorites at home against the Falcons (5-1). On this day, the Jets made Vegas look like geniuses as they dismantled the Falcons, who looked like anything but a 5-1 team. New York struck first on a Curtis Martin touchdown run and doubled up the score in the second when Jerome Henderson returned an Atlanta fumble 53 yards and into the end zone. Falcons kicker Morten Andersen converted on a 53-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 14-3, but that was the last time Atlanta would score on the day. As the Jets defense pitched a second half shutout, their offense continued to flourish on a pair of Vinny Testaverde touchdown passes—one to Keyshawn Johnson and the other to Keith Byars. The Jets won 28-3 and began their run to the postseason, as they went 8-1 the rest of the way. The 1998 Jets are one of only two teams in NFL history to win seven games in a season against would-be playoff teams.

December 20, 2009: Winners of three straight, the Jets (7-6) faced a depleted Falcons team (6-7) that they had to beat. After falling down 3-0 early in the game, New York, in a must-win game, responded when rookie QB Mark Sanchez connected with Braylon Edwards on a 68-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. This 7-3 score would stay the same until late in the contest, though. The Jets struggled to get anything done on offense after Sanchez's touchdown pass. Jay Feely missed two crucial field goals, and on the third, Kellen Clemens botched the snap and was tackled before he could attempt to throw for the first down. Still—with the NFL's #1 overall defense—it looked as if the Jets had this game in the bag. However in the final minutes, Matt Ryan, coming off of an injury, was able to get the Falcons deep into Jets territory. After getting crucial stops on first, second and third & goal, the Jets had one more play to eek out a much needed victory. Everyone on the field, in the building or watching on television knew what was coming—the Falcons were going to Tony Gonzalez. Yet the Jets weren't able to stop it, as Kerry Rhodes left Gonzalez open in the end zone and Atlanta took a 10-7 lead. Trying to muster up a comeback, the rookie Sanchez was picked off on the final drive and the Jets fell to 7-7. In the post game press conference, Rex Ryan said: "we're obviously out of the playoffs". However, as we all know, New York would go on to beat Indianapolis and Cincinnati to get into the postseason, where they eventually lost in the AFC Championship Game.

With both Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes likely not playing Monday night, the Jets will have to play a flawless game to beat the Falcons. Atlanta is 1-3, coming off of two tough losses, which does not bode well for the Jets. Roddy White is banged up and Steven Jackson won't play, but Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones provide enough offense to worry Jets fans. If New York wants to pull off the huge upset and get back over .500, Geno Smith will have to play a mistake-free game—something he has yet to do in his small sample size on the NFL level. Bilal Powell will be important as well, as he'll have to continue his surprising season—tied for the AFC lead in rushing—not only to produce offense for the Jets, but to keep Matt Ryan & Co. off the field for as long as possible.