Atlanta Falcons: 30 greatest players in franchise history
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2017
- NFL All-Decade Team (1990s w/Falcons)
- 1x First-Team All-Pro, 1x Pro Bowl w/Falcons (1995)
- First kicker to make three 50-yard FG in a game (1995) w/Falcons
- Made GW FG in overtime to send Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII
For the longest time, special teams was overlooked in terms of importance in the NFL. Punting was just something quarterbacks attempted to do. Other players would line up and attempt to kick field goals head-on with their toe. Well, former European soccer players like Morten Andersen would swiftly bring an end to that.
Andersen was born in Denmark and turned his one year as a foreign exchange student in Indianapolis into a football scholarship at Michigan State University. He would be an All-American in East Lansing for the Spartans before being a second-round pick in the 1982 NFL Draft by the Falcons’ arch rival New Orleans Saints.
In New Orleans, Andersen would put together 13 hall of fame worthy years. He may be the greatest kicker in Saints history, but his eight years with the Falcons are what ultimately put him into Canton.
Andersen made his seventh and final Pro Bowl/All-Pro first team with the 1995 Falcons. That year helped erase the narrative that he was a washed kicker that had lost his accuracy. The left-footed kicker made 83.8 percent of his kicks, as the Falcons made the NFC playoffs that season.
Against his former team on Dec. 10, 1995, Andersen became the first kicker in NFL history to make three 50-yard field goals in a game. The Falcons beat the arch rival Saints 19-14 on that Sunday afternoon in Atlanta. That’s a good way of not being washed.
However, Andersen’s signature NFL moment came in Falcons uniform in January 1999. He made the game-winning 38-yard field goal to beat the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings on the road 30-27 to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. Nationally, the 1998 NFC Championship may be seen as more of a collapse by the Vikings, but Atlanta obviously sees it differently.
Andersen would complete his first stint with the Falcons in 2000. He would play three other teams before returning to the Falcons for two more seasons in 2006 and 2007 before retiring at the age of 47.
He holds several NFL records and Saints franchise records, including points and field goals made. Andersen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017. While he doesn’t hold any major field goal franchise records for the Falcons, Andersen’s place in Atlanta football lore is unforgettable. That being said, the bulk of his individual accolades did come in Saints uniform.