Matt Bryant must be bad luck. The Atlanta Falcons’ placekicker has now been part of a pair of epic collapses. He was, of course, part of Atlanta blowing a 25-point lead to the New England Patriots on Sunday in Super Bowl LI. He was also part of the Trey Junkin Game for the New York Giants way back in the 2002 season, with the Giants blowing a 24-point lead in a Wild-Card game.
Sadly for Bryant, he didn’t get a chance to do anything about the outcome of either game.
In the case of the Giants’ game — and, yes, I hate to bring up the bad memory — because Junkin, for the second time in the game, couldn’t snap the ball straight. On Sunday, because offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, soon to be head coach of the San Francisco 49ers completely botched the end of regulation.
With 4:40 left, and 8-point lead and a first down at New England’s 22-yard-line, all the Falcons had to do was run the ball three times, make a field goal from 40 yards or closer to take a two-score lead and they would be world champions. Bryant, a 15-year veteran, went 17-of-18 in 2016 between 30 and 49 yards. They never gave Bryant the chance, though, calling two pass plays that resulted in a sack and a penalty that lost them 23 yards and ended up forcing a punt.
Amazingly, Shanahan made it sound as if he didn’t know what yard-line the Falcons were on, saying “You think just run the ball and make your guy kick a 50-yard field goal. You want to try your hardest to give him a great chance to first sure to make it.”
So, Bryant ends up being a guy who never got a chance in what could have, and should have, been two of the biggest moments of his career.
You have to wonder what the San Francisco 49ers, who are committed to hiring Shanahan as their next head coach, are thinking today after Sunday’s debacle.