Falcons rewind: Reeves reflects on march to the Super Bowl

The recommended post-bypass regimen? Win the NFC title, do the Dirty Bird. (AJC file photo)

The recommended post-bypass regimen? Win the NFC title, do the Dirty Bird. (AJC file photo)

FIRST PERSON: Dan Reeves

In a weekly feature leading up to the playoffs, former Falcons coach Dan Reeves speaks with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s staff writer D. Orlando Ledbetter about the team’s march to Super Bowl XXXIII during the 1998 season. After 15 games, like the 2012 Falcons, Reeves’ team was 13-2, and set to close out the regular season at home. They would face Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins at the Georgia Dome

“We were trying to make sure that we were going to have home-field advantage for that first game. We had already clinched, but it was still an important game. We

wanted to go into it, play well and win the football game. I was of course still out (after heart bypass surgery). They did good, and I think Steve DeBerg played some in that game (a 38-16 victory.)

“We played it like a regular game. Jack Burns, our offensive quarterback coach, called the plays and did a good job. The defense was under Rich Brooks. They just did a good job and we were a good football team.

“We were better than Miami. It was a game that we should win. Sometimes that’s the toughest one to win. We felt good about the game and we were playing at home.

“There was no thought of resting any starters, because we were still fighting to try to keep our spot in the playoffs. You want to be playing well, but you certainly have concerns. But I’ve always said that if you play hard you’ve got a better chance to stay healthy. It’s when you start worrying about injuries and you don’t play hard. If you play hard, there’s a good chance you’re not going to get hurt.

“You want to have the right attitude going into the playoffs. If you get to a point in the game where you have an edge and you want to rest those guys, maybe you do give some people that need some playing experience some time. We played like it was a regular game and went in there and tried to win the game to keep that momentum going.

“You’ve got to go in there with the same attitude. That’s when you get hurt, when you start trying to save yourself for another game. You have to play it full speed and play like you play all the time, and you’ve got a better chance of staying healthy.

“During the bye week you have to prepare for both teams. We had played San Francisco, so we knew them. We spent more time getting ready for Dallas (the No .3 seed which was upset by Arizona) because we didn’t know that much about them. (San Francisco defeated Green Bay in a wildcard- round game.)

“San Francisco had been a team that had our number. I think we had finally won the last time we had play them that year. Garrison Hearst was having a great year for them. We knew they’d be a tough opponent.

“I wanted to give them some rest, stay on our same schedule as if we were getting ready for a game.”

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23 comments Add your comment

Really!?!?!

December 29th, 2012
11:45 am

Really!?!?!

December 29th, 2012
11:46 am

Couldn’t resist. : )

drewster

December 29th, 2012
12:22 pm

That year broke my heart as a Falcon fan,First of all I hate Denver,second Shanahan and Elway bullied Dan reeves out of town and this was the perfect opportunity to get some pay back. Maybe a little less partying and more focus
thing would have been different!!

retired

December 29th, 2012
12:24 pm

Just like a fresh baked cookie, lol!

D man

December 29th, 2012
1:20 pm

That was an unexpected fun season for my Falcons. I didn’t think we were all that good but because of Reeves, he kept the guys focused and they excelled to the Superbowl. We overachieved that season. This year if we don’t make the Superbowl, we will underachieve because this team has a lot more talent on it…

Mario

December 29th, 2012
1:50 pm

I really hope Mike Smith doesn’t rest the starters. Play the game to win. Like it’s the last one.

karma

December 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

Shanahan and Elway are punks.

We beat both of their teams this year,
it will be good to see the Redskins and Broncos lose their first playoff game.

Sly Boarders

December 29th, 2012
1:57 pm

That NFC championship game against Minnesota is still the best football game I have ever seen.

FalconJim

December 29th, 2012
2:35 pm

Some good advice, from the 2nd best coach we’ve ever had (behind Smitty, of course).

Just WIN, baby….keep that momentum going!!!

GO, YOU DIRTY BIRDS!!!

Mike Franklin

December 29th, 2012
2:56 pm

1998 was a magical year. I recall with great fondness our playoff game with the 49ers and the worry I had because, as Coach Reeves said, they had our number. In fact, the 49ers became something of an twice-annual torture game because they usually beat us senseless. Except for 1980 and 1998, our stint in the NFC West was mostly forgettable.

Big Crimson 75

December 29th, 2012
3:11 pm

It sickens me to know Chrystal Chandelier still has the distinction of being the only QB to take this Franchise to a SB.
C’mon Matty Ice!!

Sly — the 98 NFC Championship Game is the best W in Falcon history.

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

Priceless

December 29th, 2012
4:46 pm

Falcon Jim-Really ????? An 0-3 soon to be 0-4 in post seasoncch is better than Reeves ?. What a loser- just like your team when it counts !

Still Gritz Blitz'n

December 29th, 2012
6:17 pm

That 98 championship game was my superbowl! awesome! It was suppose to been all minnesota that year, oh that was sweet.

KC Falcon

December 29th, 2012
6:42 pm

Priceless- (Choke) It’s a shame you have no football knowledge and realize the great players this Falcons team has, ones that are ready to get this regime its playoff wins that are going to be forthcoming, but you just can’t see it. It’s such a shame for you. It must get old harping on the past for you. Very tiring. Do I hear a second and a third?

Big Crimson 75

December 29th, 2012
6:52 pm

Vincent Jackson’s a decent WR.
That said, I’m glad my Team didn’t have fork over a mint for a guy whose career best # for grabs is 69.

bigbobbles

December 29th, 2012
8:03 pm

Choke……mess with my computer .one more time and I will send my people to your house and have you arrested for a felony.Get it? Now get off the blogs and crawl back in your hole.

bigbobbles

December 29th, 2012
8:04 pm

Excuse me tonight..You are priceless.

bigbobbles

December 29th, 2012
8:09 pm

D Led ..Thanks for the Reaves redux….1998 was a great year! This year will be greater!

Priceless

December 29th, 2012
8:15 pm

KC Failcon- Who has no football knowledge ? Better yet , who has no post season wins ? Smitty , Matty melt and the outspoken Gonzales. Give me Reeves anyday-he has a resume’ and it’s called wins and thats what counts unless you’re an upwards nerd –hmmmmm !

Priceless

December 29th, 2012
8:19 pm

bgbobbles- You don;t know anything . If you knew that you didn’t know anything , that would be someting but you don’t even know that- Priceless !!!

KC Falcon

December 30th, 2012
1:07 am

Priceless(Choke)- I know you’ll always have your contrarian view. I loved the Reeves team of 98. But even he was too conservative. They won in spite of that. Chandler was gritty and JA was a bitch. The defense was good and opportunistic. They just didn’t have enough in a given game against Denver. Had some early opportunities they didn’t capitalize on. Then they couldn’t sustain when JA blew his knee.

My football knowledge is just fine. You choose to get on here and your only is to pull the rug from a bunch of good and hopeful fans.It’s reaaaaallllly tired. Why don’t you just cleanse yourself and enjoy a really good team? The past 3 playoff games have absolutely zero bearing on what happens this year. None. It’s only a matter of time and I know you’re really afraid of that.

There was a time where Peyton didn’t have a playoff win or a Super Bowl. Same with Eli. Tony Romo, what has he done? John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco have no Super Bowl. The wins are coming for Smith/Ryan and Co. You waste way too much time with a burr under your ass.

You’re the Failure for looking like a stupid child on here- every story, every column. Same drivel. Same Matt Ryan crap. Multiple screen names. Just weak. Sad. It’s idotic. You look like a fool here almost every day. Obviously it doesn’t bother you. Again, if you can’t realize the talent of this team, it’s your loss.

RMikel58

December 30th, 2012
7:25 am

Dont we seem to live by the “What Ifs” in life. Look ahead, its a new day. Cant be any worst than looking at 4 more years of Obama.
All i know is that the last 2 playoff games we lost, those teams went on to win the Super Bowl. They were both the hottest teams heading into the playoffs and usually thats the team that wins it all.
Right now theyre saying Seattle and San Francisco are the hottest teams but hey i dont know. I think Atlanta is the hottest team right now.
You can use records, stats, a leap year, global warming, and all that but today and 2 weeks from today we will see how true or false things are and make a case for it the day after here on the AJC.
But please enjoy yourself and relax because God loves you and everyday that you wake up is a blessing in its ownself.
Go Atlanta Falcons!