1977 Atlanta Falcons Season
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1977 Atlanta Falcons Season
1977 Atlanta Falcons season
OwnerRankin M. Smith Sr.
Head coachLeeman Bennett
General managerEddie LeBaron
Home fieldFulton County Stadium
Division place2nd NFC West
Playoff finishDid not qualify

The 1977 Atlanta Falcons season was the team's 12th year in the National Football League. The team finished the season 7-7, and did not make the NFL's postseason.

Although the Falcons' offense struggled, the defense was dominant.[1] The Falcons' 129 points allowed not only led the league, but established an all-time NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 14-game NFL season.[2] Atlanta's 3,242 total yards allowed were second-fewest in the league,[3] and the Falcons' 1,384 passing yards allowed was by far the best in the NFL in 1977.[4]

Football analytics site Cold Hard Football Facts call the 1977 Falcons "the stingiest defense of the Super Bowl Era. In fact, it was the stingiest defense since World War II. Atlanta surrendered just 9.2 PPG, or a total of 129 points in the 14-game season. For a little perspective: the 2012 Bills gave up 131 points in their first four games. That unit was truly a no-name defense at its finest: despite its status as the stingiest defense since World War II, the 1977 Falcons sent only two defenders to the Pro Bowl: cornerback Rolland Lawrence and defensive end Claude Humphrey. It was truly a one-hit wonder of a unit: the 1976 Falcons possessed one of the worst defenses in the league (22.3 PPG); and it largely fell apart in 1978 (18.1 PPG). The most famous personality on the 1977 Falcons was not a player but defensive assistant Jerry Glanville, who installed in a swarming style of play in Atlanta remembered as the "Grits Blitz" defense."[5]


NFL Draft

1977 Atlanta Falcons draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 6 Warren Bryant  Offensive tackle Kentucky
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career





Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 18, 1977 Los Angeles Rams W 17-6 Falcons pulled a stunning upset and served notice they were an improved team, especially on defense. After an early touchdown pass by the Rams from "Broadway" Joe Namath to Harold Jackson, it was all Falcons as QB Scott Hunter directed a ball control offense. Hunter and Haskel Stanback both ran for touchdowns.
2 September 25, 1977 at Washington Redskins L 10-6
3 October 2, 1977 New York Giants W 17-3 In a dominant performance, the Falcons rolled up 295 yards of total offense and held the Giants to seven pass completions. Defense also had nine sacks and two interceptions. FB Monroe Eley scored and backup QB Kim McQuilken had a touchdown pass.
4 October 9, 1977 at San Francisco 49ers W 7-0 The two teams slugged along in a scoreless tie until the third period. LB Edgar Fields blocked a punt and WR Billy Ryckman recovered at the 49er 39. On the very next play, QB Hunter threw a bomb that was tipped by 49er QB Mel Phillips into the hands of WR Alfred Jenkins in the end zone for the game's only score.
5 October 16, 1977 at Buffalo Bills L 3-0 O.J. Simpson became only the 2nd running back in NFL history to reach the 10,000 yard plaque en route to running 138 yards on 23 carries. Neil O' Donoughe's 38-yard field goal was the only score in an exciting defensive battle. It was also Jim Ringo's first victory as head coach of the Bills.
6 October 23, 1977 at Chicago Bears W 16-10 Falcons defense picked off three passes and shut down superstar Walter Payton, holding him to 69 yards rushing. Bears' only touchdown came on a late kickoff return touchdown by Brian Baschnagel.
7 October 30, 1977 Minnesota Vikings L 14-7 Defense gave Fran Tarkenton all he could handle, but he threw for two touchdowns, including the game-winner to TE Bob Tucker late in the fourth quarter.
8 November 6, 1977 San Francisco 49ers L 10-3 Steve Bartkowski returned from injury and made his first start of the season, but was treated very rudely at home by the opposing team. 49ers sacked Bartkowski seven times and intercepted 2 passes. Wilbur Jackson scored the only touchdown on a 2-yard run, the first rushing touchdown allowed by the Falcons all season. 49ers won despite only 97 yards of total offense.
9 November 13, 1977 Detroit Lions W 17-6 Defense ruled the day once again for the Falcons as LB's Ralph Ortega and Robert Pennywell scored defensive touchdowns in the final period for the final margin.
10 November 20, 1977 at New Orleans Saints L 21-20 Falcons stormed out to a 20-7 halftime lead as Steve Bartkowski had a touchdown pass to Alfred Jenkins and CB Rick Byas returned an interception for another touchdown. However, Archie Manning returned from injury and came off the bench to throw two touchdown passes to TE Henry Childs and give the Saints the win.
11 November 27, 1977 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 17-0 Defense continued to be dominant and turned in perhaps its finest performance of the season, holding the hapless Bucs to 78 total yards of offense and intercepting 4 passes. Stanback had 2 1-yard touchdown runs.
12 December 4, 1977 New England Patriots L 16-10 Falcons picked off Steve Grogan three times, but Pats' defense did better, picking off Steve Bartkowski four times and sacking him eight. Still, Falcons nearly pulled off the upset at home, leading 10-9 late in the 4th until Grogan hit Stanley Morgan on a 33-yard touchdown to win it.
13 December 11, 1977 at Los Angeles Rams L 23-7 Rams avenged their season-opening loss at home by rolling up 386 yards of total offense. Pat Haden ran for a touchdown and passed for another and Lawrence McCutcheon had 152 yards on the ground.
14 December 18, 1977 New Orleans Saints W 35-7 Falcons put a perfect end to a great season by dominating the Saints at home. Steve Bartkowski threw for two touchdowns and Haskel Stanback ran for two more in the rout.


NFC West
Los Angeles Rams(2) 10 4 0 .714 4-2 8-4 302 146 L1
Atlanta Falcons 7 7 0 .500 3-3 7-5 179 129 W1
San Francisco 49ers 5 9 0 .357 3-3 5-7 220 260 L3
New Orleans Saints 3 11 0 .214 2-4 3-9 232 336 L4

Awards and records


  • Jerry Glanville's "Grits Blitz" defense set the NFL record for fewest points allowed per game since the AFL-NFL Merger (129 points on a 14-game schedule, an average of 9 points per game).


  1. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1977 Atlanta Falcons
  2. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: In a single season, from 1960 to 1977, in the regular season, sorted by ascending Points Allowed.
  3. ^ Behind Dallas's 3,213: Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1977 NFL Opposition & Defensive Statistics
  4. ^ Dallas's 1,562 passing yards allowed was second-best
  5. ^ Cold Hard Football Facts, The 100 Stingiest Defenses In Football History Archived 2015-11-14 at the Wayback Machine April 01, 2013
  6. ^ "1977 Atlanta Falcons draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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