With 2:24 left to play Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons were trailing 17-13 and facing a 4th and 15 from the Saints’ 34-yard line.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith elected to try a 52-yard field goal from kicker Matt Bryant to pull within one with all three timeouts remaining and the two-minute warning to stop the clock. However, the plan went off the rails when Bryant missed the field goal.
Smith had plenty of reasons to attempt the field goal. Bryant had missed just one field goal this season and a usually shaky Falcons’ defense had held the Saints to just 17 points and 17 first downs before their final possession. Smith believed it was the right decision to take the points and hope his defense could get the ball back over the odds of converting a 4th and long.
“There’s not a whole lot of fourth-and-fourteens,” Smith said. “We felt like the field goal – I believe we had around two minutes and 28 seconds – so we had a timeout before the two-minute (warning), use the two-minute as a timeout and we’re going to have an opportunity to get the ball back with the offense to only have to kick a field goal to win. Matt Bryant has kicked a lot of clutch field goals for us and given us an opportunity.”
The Saints called a timeout to ice Bryant and he hooked his attempt wide left. It kept the Falcons needing a touchdown to win if they could get the ball back. Ultimately, they weren’t able to get the ball back until less than 10 seconds remained.