Bryant’s availability for longer field goals was in question after he felt pain in the calf while kicking a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter of the 20-17 loss to the Panthers on Sunday. He said he first felt discomfort in the calf when he went back onto the field for extra kicks following the national anthem.
”I go back out there and get a couple more kicks and that’s when I felt something not be 100 percent right,” Bryant said.
Bryant said making the 53-yarder ”was a challenge.” He said he also felt the injury on extra points.
Coach Dan Quinn said Monday that Bryant’s injury influenced crucial decisions on two fourth down calls against the Panthers. The Falcons had possessions end at the Panthers 35 and 39 in the second and fourth quarters, respectively. With a healthy Bryant, each drive may have ended in field goal attempts.
”That’s what held us back,” Quinn said. ”When we knew he was limited a little bit we didn’t want to try to extend him for the long ones. We were able to do that early, but we weren’t going to do that as the game progressed.”
Instead of attempting field goals of about 52 and 56 yards, the Falcons went for first downs on the fourth down plays. They were stopped on each play.
”That contributed to us going for some of the ones we did,” Quinn said. ”Normally if Matt is in range we give him the green light. We trust him so much.”
Bryant was seen talking with Quinn on the sideline after the 53-yard field goal.
”We shortened up the range for the rest of the half,” Bryant said. ”When I came back after halftime, if there was a situation in the fourth quarter, I was able to figure out I could have kicked further than we originally determined to be a safe range.”
Bryant said he thought the ”safe range” for the second half was 53 yards. He emphasized he didn’t know how far he could kick when the decision was made to leave the offense on the field for the fourth-and-1 play at the Carolina 35 in the second quarter. Devonta Freeman was stopped for no gain as Atlanta’s offense again came up short in a crucial situation.
”I didn’t know how far I could kick,” Bryant said. ”I just want to be clear on that. I didn’t think I could kick that far at that point of the game. But at the end of the game, who knows?”
The 42-year-old Bryant wouldn’t provide details of the injury. He said it is not related to a back injury he suffered earlier this season.
Asked about if he’ll be able to kick in this week’s game against the Cowboys, Bryant said ”From what I’ve been told yes, there’s a chance.”
Bryant has made 15 of 18 field goal attempts this season, including 9 of 10 from over 40 yards. He surpassed Hall of Famer Morten Andersen’s franchise scoring record midway through the 2016 season.
The Falcons (4-4) have lost four of five games and have scored no more than 17 points in each of the losses. Julio Jones dropped a would-be 39-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Quinn said Jones may be limited on Wednesday with a lower leg injury. Freeman also may be limited with an undisclosed injury. Quinn said Freeman did not aggravate a shoulder injury he suffered in a win over the Jets on Oct. 29.
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