Whenever any athlete becomes 40 years old, you have to ponder about their longevity surpassing another year. That theory doesn't apply to Matt Bryant. The ageless wonder continues to give the Falcons stability at an important position. Some may forget how this position was once a liability for Atlanta.
Jason Elam was signed in 2008 and became an instant hit in Atlanta. He made 29 out of 31 field goal attempts, which is a remarkable total. Who can forget his memorable kick to seal the incredible comeback against Chicago in 2008? Elam was reliable at 39 years old, before a steep decline occurred in 2009. The three-time Pro Bowler made just 12 out of 19 field goal attempts. That includes an alarming four missed field goals from 39 yards or closer. A change was imminent and Matt Bryant was signed through the latter part of 2009.
Bryant has been incomparable over the past five seasons in Atlanta. His field goal percentage hasn't been lower than 86 percent in a full season, which proves his reliability. It's unfair to rate his 2009 season, where he made only seven out of ten field goal attempts. Two of those attempts were blocked. In 2010, Bryant made back-to-back game-winning field goals against New Orleans and San Francisco. Without those kicks, that 13-3 Falcons team finds themselves at 1-3 to start the season.
It has been a special redemption story for Bryant. This was a player, who was out of the league in 2008 following his four-year stint with Tampa Bay. Nobody bothered to sign him, until Atlanta gave him an opportunity in December of 2009. People were unsure of him, yet grew fond of him following that disappointing season. Not many expected Bryant to kick three game-winning field goals in 2012, which includes their playoff win over Seattle. How about converting a 51-yard field goal against New Orleans in September to take the game into overtime? Then, he kicks a 52-yard field goal in overtime to give Atlanta a memorable win over their arch-nemesis.
Bryant has been an unbelievable asset to Atlanta. Whether his decline occurs this year or in three years, his ability to convert kicks in game-winning situations will always be remembered. Those kicks have earned him a very popular moniker across the fan base. As this team continues to rebuild into a contender once again, they hope that Bryant continues to be money at every opportunity.