It’s almost fitting that Matt Bryant’s 1,000-point as an Atlanta Falcon proved to be a game-winning kick.
With 3:49 left in Thursday night’s contest against the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, Bryant nailed a 52-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 20-17 lead. His 1,000-point as a member of the franchise turned out to be the final 3 points Atlanta needed to knock off its divisional foe when linebacker Deion Jones picked off quarterback Drew Brees with 1:25 left in the game.
“I hit that one pretty good,” Bryant said. “That was probably one of the better feeling kicks coming off of my foot. I mean halfway there I gave it a little Ric Flair.” Bryant yelled “Woooo,” the iconic catchphrase from the Nature Boy.
The field goal, which looked like it had enough power to be good from 60 yards away, had added significance for the 42-year-old when he looked up at the Halo Board circling Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I didn’t know that was a milestone until I was walking off the field,” Bryant said. “I saw it up on the Halo Board. I happened to look up and I saw 1,000 points so I thought that was pretty cool.”
The Falcons signed Bryant in December of 2009 to replace veteran Jason Elam. Eight years later, he broke Morten Andersen’s all-time franchise scoring record of 806 points in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers last season. Bryant is now 18th on the all-time NFL scoring chart with 1,595 points accounted for.
Falcons fans have become accustomed to Bryant having ice in his veins late in games. Bryant has 15 game-winning field goals in the fourth quarter or overtime since he arrived in Atlanta nine years ago.
“It’s kinda funny my 1,000-point worked out this way,” Bryant said.
Bryant said in a modest tone, when he realized he reached the 1,000-point threshold during the game, no nostalgic emotions ran through his mind. However, after the game, he enjoyed reflecting on his nine years spent in Atlanta. Bryant said the one kick that stands out to him was his 49-yard game-winner against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 Divisional Round.
“As a franchise at that point in time, that was the next step that we needed to take. So, to make that kick at the end to help us get to the (NFC) Championship, I think that is the one that standouts the most,” Bryant said.