The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 37 is placekicker Matt Bryant.
Years played for Falcons: Since joining the Falcons in 2009, Matt Bryant, an undrafted free agent who got his first taste of the NFL back in 2002 as a 27-year-old with the New York Giants, has kicked Atlanta to some of their best seasons ever as a franchise. The quiet veteran leader of the Falcons has become one of the longest tenured players on the roster, playing through the ups and downs the franchise has seen.
Jersey No.: 3
His impact on the team: Known as one of the most clutch kickers currently in the NFL, Matt Bryant has consistently sank game-winners for the Falcons. During his first four seasons in Atlanta from 2009-2012, he was an integral part of the team that made back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history and won two NFC South Division championships during that time. Over that span of four seasons, Atlanta blossomed into one of the best franchises in the league, going 45-19. Bryant is the Falcons’ all-time leader in field goals made from over 50 yards (18), surpassing the NFL’s all-time leading scorer Morten Andersen. Bryant also holds the distinction of having the highest field goal percentage in franchise history of a kicker that has played more than one season in Atlanta with an 88 percent clip. He is also a perfect 245-of-245 on extra points during his stay in the A.
On his routine before each kick: “Going out there you remind yourself keep your head down. I tell myself all the time right before the kick, down and thru, down and thru.”
On having the chance to become the hero at the end of games: “I’m a competitor. Whether it be on the field kicking a ball, whether it be on the golf course, or whether it be sitting down playing checkers with my kid. I want to win. If we are playing HORSE, I want to win. That’s just my nature. If there is a scoreboard or someone is keeping track of some sort, doing my best is always the goal.”
On seeing other kickers miss big kicks: “If I am watching a game and I see a guy kick and he misses a game winner, I know I don’t want to feel like that. I have been fortunate enough to where I have not had to have that feeling.”
On his charitable efforts of giving tickets away: “It is about enjoying what is out there and what has been brought to Atlanta to view and enjoy. We will try to make a day out of it. It’s mainly for the kids to give the, a day of happiness.”
Where he is now: Bryant , 40, is still kicking and has plenty of life left in his leg. He is 14-of-17 this season and reached the 300 made field goals plateau with his last make, a 19-yarder in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers last week.
50: Chuck Smith
49: Michael Haynes
47: John Zook
46: Ken Reaves
45: Lynn Cain
44: Justin Blalock
43: Bobby Butler
42: Tim Mazzetti
41: Buddy Curry
40: Scott Case
39: Jeff Merrow
38: Elbert Shelley
37: Matt Bryant