Falcons to host a Monday night game in 2010

The NFL's premier in-season event, "Monday Night Football," returns to Atlanta after a two-year hiatus.

The Falcons’ 2010 schedule is highlighted by two national-TV appearances, including a Monday night game against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

The Falcons will host the Saints at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 27 at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised on ESPN.

The Falcons' other nationally televised game will be a Thursday night game against the Baltimore Ravens at 8:20 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised by NFL Network.

The Falcons played a Monday Night game last season, but the game was in New Orleans. In 2008, the team did not play any prime-time games.

The Falcons' last Monday night game at home was Dec. 10, 2007 against the Saints. That was Bobby Petrino’s last game as the head coach. He resigned and left for the head coaching job at Arkansas the next day.

The Falcons have the 20th-toughest schedule in the league based on their opponents’ records in 2009 (127-129).

Last season, the Falcons finished 9-7 to post the franchise’s first back-to-back winning seasons. However, the team, which was beset with injuries to key starters in running back Michael Turner and quarterback Matt Ryan, posted only one victory over a team (New York Jets) with a winning record.

In 2010, the Falcons will face six non-divisional opponents – Arizona (10-6), Green Bay (11-5), Baltimore (9-7), Philadelphia (11-5), Cincinnati (10-6) and Pittsburgh (9-7) -- who posted winning records last season.

“This season’s schedule is a demanding one. However, we are excited to take on the challenge,” said coach Mike Smith in a statement released by the team. “We’ll be tested right out of the gate."

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