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NFL

Falcons have utmost faith in steady kicker Bryant

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 8:16 p.m.
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

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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