The best the Falcons could do is finish 9-7 in their first season under head coach Dan Quinn.
The Falcons last made the playoffs in 2012 and reached the NFC championship game. The were 4-12 in 2013 and 6-10 in 2014, which led to the dismissal of Mike Smith, the franchise’s winningest coach.
The Falcons opened the season 5-0 and went to 6-1, before losing six straight games. The Falcons bounced back to beat Jacksonville and Carolina to stop their slide.
The Falcons are probably going to regret not going for the win on the 1-yard line against San Francisco, a game they were heavily favored to win.
After dropping to 6-2, the Falcons were facing the 49ers, who elected to start backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Down 17-13 with 2:56 to play, Quinn elected to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
He thought the defense could get the ball back. They couldn’t and Gabbert ran out the clock as the 49ers won 17-16. The 49ers have gone 1-5 since they stole that victory from the Falcons.
Also, the Falcons lost to the Tampa Bay, who were playing with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, twice this season.
The Bucs defeated the Falcons 23-20 in overtime on Nov. 1 at the Georgia Dome. The Bucs also prevailed over the Falcons 23-19 on Dec. 6 in Tampa.
Winston converted a third-and-19 and the Falcons’ effort to tackle was questioned on the play. Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said several Falcons were loafing on the play as Winston broke tackles and picked up 20 yards.
The following week, the Falcons were pummeled by the Panthers 38-0 in Charlotte to hit the low point of the season. They were getting into fights on the field and even had some internal squabbling between defensive tackle RaShede Hageman and defensive line coach Bryan Cox.
The Panthers scored 21 points on the first 18 plays of the game and amassed 260 yards in the first quarter.
The Falcons were in danger of becoming the first time since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to start the season 5-0 and finished the season with a losing record.
But the Falcons regrouped with a 23-17 win over Jacksonville on Dec. 20 and pulled off the stunner over Carolina.
While they are eliminated from the playoffs, the Falcons can still finish with a winning record by defeated the Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.