Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) and punter Matt Bosher prepare for drills at the team's headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga., on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Atlanta is scheduled to face the Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. AP Photo/David Tulis
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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.
By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 8:16 p.m.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — When Matt Bryant is on the sideline, fully aware the game might be decided by his right leg, he'll drape a towel over his head to shut out the world.
He barely pays attention to the game. He doesn't hear the crowd, no matter how loud the fans are.
A sense of calmness sweeps over him.
“That towel acts like a force field,” Bryant said. “For whatever reason, that seems to block out of a lot of things.”
No kicker has been more clutch than Bryant over the last three years — and especially this season. He has won three games for the Atlanta Falcons in the final minute of regulation, including a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left in last week's thrilling playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
On Sunday, the Falcons will host the NFC Championship Game for the first time. And if their game against the San Francisco 49ers goes down to the wire — and, let's not forget, three of the last five conference title games have gone to overtime — they have full confidence that Bryant will come through again.
“You don't need to panic when you're in a situation like that,” said offensive guard Justin Blalock.
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