FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. With 4:25 left in regulation and his team leading the New Orleans Saints by seven points, Falcons head coach Mike Smith elected to try a 55-yard field goal.
If Falcons kicker Matt Bryant had missed and Bryant was coming off a game in which he uncharacteristically missed two of three attempts the Saints would have had the ball at the Falcons 45-yard-line and plenty of time to score. It was the kind of difficult choice that, if it went wrong, would echo others in the Falcons difficulties against their NFC South archrivals over the years.
Smiths somewhat risky strategy paid off, as Bryant nailed the kick and the Falcons prevailed 23-13. Asked about the decision after the game, Smith regarded his questioner with the kind of look that said, Thats why they pay me the big bucks.
Thats a big decision, he said. There are a lot of decisions that are made and I had all of the confidence in the world in Matt Bryant and that he would make that field goal. We knew if we did...