First they lost their quarterback, then they lost their coach.
In the meantime, the Atlanta Falcons lost 12 of their 15 games in the 2007 season with one game left to play.
The fall of the Falcons, a team that played for the NFC Championship in 2004, was rapid and complete in 2007. The last chapter will be written today when they play host to the Seattle Seahawks in the regular season finale.
The bad news began in the preseason, when quarterback Michael Vick was indicted on dog-fighting charges and banned from training camp by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The franchise player saw more of courtrooms and jail cells than the football field in 2007.
But there was still hope, still reason to be excited for the Falcons administration and fans.
They had a new, exciting coach in Bobby Petrino for the University of Louisville. They had backup Joey Harrington to fill Vick’s shoes and they still had veteran players like Warrick Dunn, Alge Crumpler and DeAngelo Hall to support.
Going 3-1 in four preseason games also built up the hope that a season without Vick could still be a successful one.
Once the regular season started, however, that hope diminished week by week.
The Falcons lost their first three games, failing to score a touchdown a season-opening loss at Minnesota.
After winning their first game of the season, beating Houston 26-16 on Sept. 30, the Falcons went on a four-game losing streak. Atlanta’s second win of the season came against San Francisco, 20-16, but only the fans in the Georgia Dome that day got to see it.
For the first time in the Arthur Blank era, the Falcons were blacked out on television locally because of diminished ticket sales. Today’s finale against the Seahawks will also be blacked out.
The Falcons last win came against Carolina, 20-13 on Nov. 11. The latest, and arguably biggest, bombshell to hit the Falcons came on Dec. 12: coach Bobby Petrino was out.
Just a day after losing the New Orleans, Petrino resigned as the Falcons coach to take the head coaching spot at Arkansas. He left a note in each player’s locker to say good-bye.
Players used words like "coward" and "yellow" to describe the manner in which Petrino left.
Since his departure, the Falcons have lost two straight and will finish the season today with their third straight losing year.