‘Money’ Matt Bryant: Top 5 Falcon Memories
Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant is a legendary figure in the eyes of Falcons fans.
So after hitting a crucial 57 yard field goal to help the Falcons get the win over the Buccaneers, kicker Matt Bryant has been ruled out for at least the upcoming matchup with the Giants.
With Father Time catching up on Bryant, it is feasible that this season could be his last in the NFL. He is undeniably a Falcons legend, the all-time franchise leader in points and an ever reliable for the best part of a decade. Here we look back on his Top 5 memorable moments as a Falcon:
5) Ties franchise record vs Chiefs, aged 41, November 2016
Even as a kicker, Bryant defied age to stay in the NFL past 40 and continually kicked at a very high level into his 40s. This is exemplified by the fact he tied the Falcons franchise record for longest successful field goal aged 41. The monster 59 yarder tied a franchise record with the great Morten Anderson, whose record of most points in franchise history Bryant had broken earlier in 2016.
4) Trash Talking with Greg Hardy, December 2012
You know your kicker is mentally tough when he engages in a slanging match with angry, division rival defensive linemen. Bryant and Carolina’s Greg Hardy got into it after the Panthers beat the Falcons in December 2012. The bad blood was caused by Matt Ryan yelling expletives at the Carolina sideline after another Bryant game-winner earlier that season. After the Panthers won the next match-up Hardy repeated the same expletives at each Falcon player he passed. Bryant responded by reminding Hardy the Panthers would be done playing ball in December, whilst the Falcons would be marching on to the playoffs. This episode solidified Bryant’s fan-favorite status with the Atlanta faithful. Incidentally, since then Greg Hardy had numerous legal troubles, was out of the NFL 3 years later and now has a fledgling MMA career whilst Bryant is still suiting it up on Sunday’s aged 43. We think we know who had the last laugh here.
3) Silences the Superdome, Falcons v Saints, September 2010
The Saints were the defending Super Bowl champions and the Superdome was amped for this early season matchup between the two NFC South Rivals. Saints kicker Garrett Hartley hooked a game-winning chip shot opportunity, giving ‘money’ Matt Bryant the opportunity to win it for the Falcons. In spite of attempts to ice him, then a false start penalty adding more pressure by pushing the game-winning kick back five yards as well as the whole of Louisiana willing him to miss, Bryant split the uprights silencing the Superdome. For Falcons fans there is no sweeter sound!
2) Saves the day from 50+ yards, then wins the day from 50+ yards school Saints in Week 1, September 2014
This comes in at no 2 purely based on the pressure of the kicks and the yardage in question. Ultimately this week 1 win was a small bright spot in a very poor season, which saw the Mike Smith era end for the Falcons. Bryant kicked a 51 yarder to tie the game as time expired, then kicked a 52 yarder to win the game in overtime. That is the epitome of reliability in the clutch and the epitome of Bryant’s career as a Falcon
1) Divisional Playoff Game-Winner vs Seahawks, January 2013
This was a game the Falcons should never have come close to losing, but fortunately, Matt Bryant was there to save us again! Having been up 27-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, inexplicably the Falcons collapsed and found themselves trailing by one as Seattle scored a touchdown to go ahead with 30 seconds left on the clock. Fortunately, this left enough time for Matt Ryan to lead the Falcons into field goal range in two plays. Bryant then stepped onto the field with the entire franchise on his back. Prior to this Matt Ryan, Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith for all their regular season success had never won a playoff game and it felt like if Bryant missed they would never get this monkey off their back. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll tried to ice Bryant by calling a timeout, the Falcons still snapped the ball and Bryant missed the free shot to the right, piling more pressure on the subsequent kick. We need not have worried as Bryant nailed this right down the middle, sending Falcons faithful crazy. For me personally, this was a first playoff win as a Falcons fan and it felt like all the emotion of the failures of the previous years came out when the kick went through.
So thank you, Matt Bryant, for these memories and here is hoping your back on the field soon to add some more!