Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/4/12
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 didnt get the outcome, our defense would go out there and make the play to keep them off. It was a no-brainer in my mind. To Smith, it might have seemed like a no-brainer, but his kicker thought the move veered from his coachs past decision-making. I was kind of surprised we were attempting it just because our style of football that wasnt necessarily our style of football, so I was surprised, Bryant said. Pregame, you go out and hit them from 58 (yards), so as far as being able to do it, theres not a doubt. It was fun for him to say, Go out there and get those three points. So that was good, but that hasnt necessarily been the norm, so I guess I was a little surprised, too. The 55-yarder was Bryants second of the season, both being his longest since he kicked a 62-yarder in 2006. Since replacing Jason Elam in 2009, he has ranked among the NFLs best. Last season, his 93.1 percentage (27 of 29) was best in the NFL, according to the Falcons, and the 30 consecutive kicks he made between 2010 and 11 represent the longest streak in team history. This season, his 119 points rank third in the league and both his 29 field goals and 34 attempts are tied for second in the league. However, his 85.3 percentage has dipped below his performance of the last two seasons (he also was above 90 percent in 2010), which were the two best of his career. Thirteen kickers who have a minimum of 18 attempts have higher percentages than Bryant this season. Still, his performance this season is more in line with his career percentage of 84.2 during his 11 years in the NFL. That Bryant had arguably his worst day as a Falcon against his former team, Tampa Bay, would seem like it wouldnt sit well with the kicker, saying on Tuesday that itll be 20 years down the road and it still wont change the fact of how business was done there. Nonetheless, he said that didnt change the fact missing the kicks felt the same as it would against any other opponent. You want to go there, you want to have your best game. Period, he said. No matter where youre at. You want to have your best game there, too. Would it have hurt any less if happened in Detroit? No. Bryant was able to live that one down because the Falcons won the game. The strangest occurrence involving one of his missed kicks happened with the first one, a 22-yarder. A miss from between 20 and 29 yards is extremely rare. In the NFL this season, teams have attempted 169 kicks from that range -- with only three misses, giving a success rate of 98.2 percent. First, Bryant called timeout before the try, as the play clock was running down and he did not want to have to rush the kick. Even after that, the kick hooked left badly Bryant said you could count on one finger the number of kicks he has made with the Falcons that have looked like that. After viewing the tape, Bryant said there was a mistake with the operation among the trio of rookie long snapper Josh Harris, holder Matt Bosher and himself. Weve had 34 attempts as this little group together -- field goals, Bryant said. I dont know how many extra points Ive had (32), so lets say theres been over 60 attempts weve had in game situations. Other than the very first game where I ended up kicking Boshers hand on one of the extra points, everythings been good. Bryant did not specify what the issue was other than calling it a snafu and just a little operational thing between the three of us. It just cant happen, he said. He seemed to say that it was a one-time occurrence and that the trio had straightened it out. Thats probably why Smith had the confidence in him to make the big kick that helped to put the Saints away last Thursday. Matt Bryant is a guy that makes plays like that all the time, Smith said. Hes made them for us since hes been with us.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Osweiler: Film from last two years proves I should be starter

Daughter of Bucks owner burns Bill Simmons on Twitter

Tiger Woods tells golf world to try and kick this football he’s holding

Tyronn Lue: Gameplanning to defend Celtics harder than Warriors

How the Senators can upset the Penguins in Game 7

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Paxton Lynch cutting out early while other QBs stay late

Michael Jordan unique 1984 Converse shoes could fetch up to $100K at auction

Joe Girardi has interesting reason why no medical scans for Masahiro Tanaka

Ezekiel Elliott’s mom fires back after son criticized for being in car accident

Browns make Ryan Grigson senior personnel executive

Potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz looks positively jacked in recent photo

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

Box Score 5/24: Craig Anderson saves the Senators

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker