Friday Flashback:  Big Ben Right

The Atlanta Falcons pulled off one of the most improbable wins on November 12, 1978 in a game with the New Orleans Saints at the Super Dome.  This wasn’t the same teams that we see today.  Both had labored through many losing seasons and neither had made a playoff appearance in their history at this time.  In 1978, the Falcons were on their way to their first and were on a four-game winning streak going into their game against  the Saints.  With time running out and trailing 17-13 on their own 43-yard line, Atlanta quarterback Steve Bartkowski called “Big Ben Right” which was basically a desperation play where the offense overloaded receivers to one side and the quarterback threw the ball up for grabs hoping that his teammate would come down with it.

Almost as if they had planned it, Bartkowski launched the ball deep down the right sideline where receiver Wallace Francis tipped the ball to Alfred Jenkins who was trailing on the play.  Jenkins raced the final 10 yards for the game-winning score for the Falcons.  

The miraculous play sealed a comeback that began with 2:23 left with the Falcons trailing 17-6.  

If not for that play, the Falcons would not have made the playoffs.  They lost three of their last five games and got into the postseason with a 9-7 record to qualify for the wildcard game against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The 1978 season was the first season when the National Football League had added a wildcard game.  

I personally remember watching this game.  My dad and I had been watching this game when he had to leave with the Falcons trailing 17-6.  When I saw him later I told him the Falcons had won the game.  He would not believe it as he thought I was messing with him.  It was an amazing game that I will always remember.   

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