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NFL – Throwback Thursday: Falcons’ First Win

18 Oct

In past Throwback Thursday posts, we’ve featured a number of “firsts” that occurred over the years in pro football, including the first AFL game ever played, the New Orleans’ Saints first ever game, and this year, the Cardinals’ first game as the St. Louis Cards. This week, with the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants meeting on the NFL schedule, we go back to November 20, 1966, when the Falcons’ franchise recorded the first victory in team history with a 27-16 win over New York. Welcomed into the National Football League as an expansion team in ’66, the Falcons had their top draft pick, linebacker Tommy Nobis, and not much else. They lost their first 9 games of the year, but this particular week they traveled to Yankee Stadium to battle an equally inept club in the Giants, who had a lone victory and a tie to show for their season so far.

Nobis had been a stalwart on defense for a bad team most of the year, and the team had another rookie first round draft pick leading the offense in quarterback Randy Johnson, who didn’t have much to work with on his side of the ball either. On this day, however, Atlanta had a secret weapon on their side – a highly motivated fullback named Ernie Wheelwright. He had been plucked by the Falcons off the Giants’ roster in the expansion draft held before the season to stock the new franchise. Wheelwright, a career journeyman with pedestrian statistics, was a key figure in beating his old team on this day, accounting for 86 yards from scrimmage and scoring 2 touchdowns on short throws from Johnson. The rookie QB threw 3 TD passes on the day and also ran for a touchdown in the final quarter to secure his team’s first win ever. Running back Joe Morrison was a lone bright spot in a dismal season for the Giants, and in this game scored a pair of touchdowns in a losing cause. Atlanta would ride the momentum from winning this contest to grab 2 more victories to finish the year at 3-11, escaping last place while the Giants continued their losing ways, finishing last behind the Falcons in the Eastern Division standings at 1-12-1. This era was not a very successful one for the proud Giants’ franchise, and finishing last behind an expansion team was a particular low point.

tommynobis

Falcons’ linebacker Tommy Nobis

 

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