ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons will re-introduce red helmets to be paired with the team’s 1966 throwback uniforms in 2022.
The Falcons will debut the red helmets in a matchup of two throwback NFC West rivals when they meet San Francisco in Week 6 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Coca-Cola will be the presenting partner of the game week.
Paying homage to the club’s inaugural squad, the red helmet features a grey facemask with a throwback black Falcon crest logo trimmed in white and a black stripe down the middle of the helmet trimmed in white and gold. The helmet’s color scheme was designed to represent rival schools Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. Atlanta wore this version of the helmet from 1966 to 1969 before removing the gold trim for the 1970 season.
The iconic red helmet will be paired with the team’s throwback uniforms which feature black jerseys with white numbers, red trim, and a white-trimmed Falcon crest on the sleeves. The uniform combination is completed with white pants featuring a red stripe bordered by two black stripes and white and black socks with red and black striping.
The Falcons introduced this uniform combination in 2009 to honor the club’s 1966 inaugural squad. Atlanta wore the uniform twice per year until 2013 when NFL rules prohibited teams from wearing more than one helmet. In 2016, Atlanta brought back its throwback uniforms, pairing the black jerseys with black helmets that featured a throwback logo. Last season, the NFL informed teams that they would be permitted to wear a second helmet in 2022. Per the NFL, the revised policy allows teams to wear a second, alternate color helmet to pair with throwback, color rush or alternate uniforms.
With an iconic uniform comes iconic moments in franchise history. Here are a few of the top games in Falcons history that featured these particular red helmets.
1966 | Week 10 vs. N.Y. Giants
It took a long time for the Falcons to get their first NFL win. Such is life for an expansion team starting from scratch. The Falcons finally notched a ‘W’ in their 10th game, on Nov. 20, 1966, securing a 27-16 victory over the New York Giants. It also started a more positive stretch to the team’s first campaign, with three wins in four games as the season wound down.
The first win of that first season, wearing the iconic red helmet celebrated in 2022, was earned thanks to a solid performance from quarterback Randy Johnson. He had 177 passing yards – a decent sum in that era – including three passing touchdowns. Junior Coffey and Ernie Wheelwright combined for 115 rushing yards that day, plus Bill Jobko and Jerry Richardson had interceptions to help lock down the Falcons first-ever win.
1969 | Week 12 vs. New Orleans
The Falcons beat their archrival for the first time, on Dec. 7, 1969, with a lopsided result dominated by big plays. Linebacker Ron Acks recovered a fumble in the end zone, Harmon Wages caught an 88-yard touchdown pass from Bob Berry – he had three TD passes that day at Atlanta Stadium – and Wages ran another one in from 66 yards out.
The dominant showing was the start of something good, the first of nine straight wins over a team that would become a hated rival. The Falcons finished 6-8 that season, their first close to .500, which started a run of improved results in the franchise’s early years.
2010 | Week 4 vs. San Francisco
After dropping their season opener in heartbreaking fashion with an overtime loss in Pittsburgh, the Falcons rebounded with wins against the Cardinals and an overtime win at New Orleans before breaking out the throwback uniforms, complete with red helmets for a Week 4 matchup against the 0-3 San Francisco 49ers. The two former division rivals played an instant classic at the Georgia Dome with the 49ers jumping out to a 14-0 lead, shocking the Falcons and stunning the crowd. Come-from-behind wins would become a hallmark of the 2010 team though, and they battled back to make it a one-point game at 14-13 late in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta would get the ball back with a chance to win with 1:28 remaining in the game but Matt Ryan was intercepted at midfield by Nate Clements in what appeared to be a game-sealing turnover. As Clements raced towards the end zone, Roddy White tracked the safety down and punched the ball free. Falcons guard Harvey Dahl pounced on the loose ball and gave Atlanta a second shot. Starting at their own 12-yard line with 1:12 on the clock, the Falcons engineered a 12-play, 68-yard drive culminating in a 43-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to steal a 16-14 win and give Atlanta three straight victories in their throwback duds.
2010 | Week 10 vs. Baltimore
Remember what we said about comeback victories? Atlanta and Baltimore both entered a Week 10, Thursday Night Football matchup with identical 6-2 records. This occasion was truly a ‘Prime Time’ affair as the Falcons honored the legendary Deion Sanders with an induction into the team’s Ring of Honor. With Sanders in attendance as part of NFL Network’s coverage of the game, The Falcons took an early 13-0 lead and would have a 20-7 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta saw that 13-point edge turn into a 21-20 deficit with just 1:05 remaining in the game. Ryan would hit Michael Jenkins on the sideline for a 24-yard gain and then White over the middle for 15 yards. A defensive pass interference call moved the ball to the Ravens’ 33-yard line and then the throwback magic struck again. On first-and-10 with 24 seconds remaining, Ryan rolled to his left and connected with an open and in stride White who raced into the end zone to give Atlanta the 26-21 victory.
2012 | Week 4 vs. Carolina
The Falcons opened the 2012 season looking to take the next step after back-to-back playoff seasons each ended in one-and-done fashion. They got off to a good start, routing the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, intercepting Peyton Manning three times and outlasting the Broncos in Week 2 and throttling the Chargers in Week 3. The team entered its Week 3 matchup with the Carolina Panthers riding high off those impressive wins. Like many division contests, this one would prove to be a tight one. The game saw four lead changes in the first three quarters and would feature two more in the fourth.
The Panthers held the Falcons to a field goal with just under five minutes left in the fourth and it looked like Carolina would hand Atlanta its first loss of the season, bleeding the clock down inside the two-minute warning. Things looked bleak for Atlanta, but John Abraham stopped Cam Newton short of the first down on a third-and-2 play, better yet he also forced Newton to fumble. The Panthers recovered the fumble but were forced to punt. Carolina did all they could to keep the Falcons at bay, downing the ball at the 1-yard line with just 59 seconds remaining. On the Falcons first play, Ryan dropped back into the middle of the end zone and launched a ball to midfield, White leaped up over Haruki Nakamura to pull the ball down at the Panthers 40. Two short passes later, Bryant jogged onto the field, shook off an attempted icing, and calmly sent a 40-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to lift Atlanta to a 30-28 win.