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Matt Bosher’s tackle sets the tone for the Falcons: ‘I can’t make fun of him for being a punter no more’

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Matt Bosher’s tackle sets the tone for the Falcons: ‘I can’t make fun of him for being a punter no more’

Jason Butt

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Usually, it’s a bad sign when reporters crowd around a specialist. It often means an errant kick occurred at a critical time in a loss. One of the greatest jokes, especially for punters and long snappers, is that people only want to talk to them when they screw up.

That wasn’t the case Sunday after the Falcons’ 24-10 win over Carolina at Bank of America Stadium.

Matt Bosher, the team’s punter who also handles kickoffs, seemed somewhat surprised to see a cluster of photographers and writers suddenly appear in front of him even though he came through with what was easily the play of the day. Right around the 5:25 mark of the second quarter, Bosher left a kickoff short at the Carolina 3-yard line. Kenjon Barner found a seam and hit the hole with what, for a split-second, looked to be a solid return.

That’s when Bosher stepped into the hole and lowered his shoulder into Barner’s upper body. By doing so, he sent Barner airborne and then landing flat on his back.

The tackle sent shockwaves through the Falcons’ sideline.

Just as Bosher was fielding his first question about the tackle, place-kicker Matt Bryant playfully toned down his teammate’s accomplishment.

“Tell them the truth,” Bryant said. “You caught the guy slipping.”

Bosher laughed and said he did.

“Kenjon is a **** of a returner,” Bosher said. “He just caught it at the wrong time with the jump cut. My job is to stand back there and be a safety, be head-up on the ball and make a play when it gets to me.”

Bosher was modest about the tackle. He politely answered a few questions but didn’t seem too interested in hyping it up — although he did flex over Barner following the tackle. And, of course, Bosher had to dish out some trash talk in the moment.

“I mean, I went to Miami,” Bosher said.

His teammates, however, were more than willing to share their recollections of Bosher’s tackle and even offered some insight on why Atlanta’s punter and kickoff specialist was able to execute a tackle that set the tone for the remainder of the day on defense.

In the weight room, Bosher often works out with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper. Jones and Ridley said Bosher is a lot stronger than the average person may think or expect. Jones said when it’s leg day, Bosher can squat 315 pounds easily. While Jones said he doesn’t stereotype any NFL player based on his position, he noted that Bosher isn’t your typical kicker.

“Him just slamming somebody like that, it was pretty cool to see,” Jones said.

Ridley said it is impressive to see Bosher lift as heavy as he does.

“He’s strong — really, really strong,” Ridley said. “He squats, benches. I’m not surprised (about the tackle). Well, a little bit because he hit him really, really hard.”

That seemed to be the takeaway from Bosher’s teammates. They are aware Bosher is in great physical shape. Even so, the force he displayed dropped their jaws.

Cornerback Isaiah Oliver was chasing Barner as Bosher stepped into the hit. The sheer violence of the play had Oliver in disbelief.

“I didn’t see him at first; he came out of nowhere,” Oliver said. “He just picked the dude up and dumped him. I was shocked at first. I didn’t know who it was. Then I realized it was Bosher. It was a great hit.”

Could he have expected that from Bosher?

“A hit like that? Not necessarily,” Oliver said. “He’s a physical guy. He’s not like most kickers in the NFL — or the idea of most kickers, at least. He’s a physical guy; he’s a great teammate, great player. You don’t really expect that from a kicker like that, to go in there and risk his body like that.”

Defensive tackle Jack Crawford’s locker is next to Bosher’s at the team facility in Flowery Branch, so he is always offering up some good-natured teasing about being a punter. Those jokes, however, are going to stop for a while.

Crawford offered up an explanation for Bosher’s hit. A running joke in the Falcons’ locker room, Crawford said, is that there is “Happy Bosh” and “Angry Bosh.” When Bosher is jovial and chatting his teammates up, he’s happy. When he’s quiet, they assume he’s angry.

“I think that was ‘Angry Bosh’ on the field because that guy just, man, he got stopped on a dime,” Crawford said. “That was a good play.”

After the game, Crawford told Bosher that he didn’t know he had it in him to make such a play. While it was a special-teams tackle, Crawford expects to see it, from every angle, on the cut-up Monday in the defensive meeting room.

“He leveled that guy,” Crawford said. “I can’t make fun of him for being a punter no more. He always says he’s a punter, and he’s not really about that noise. I can’t make those jokes anymore. He’s my locker mate; I’m used to making those jokes. I’m going to lay off a little bit.”

These past two wins over Arizona and Carolina have given Atlanta a major morale boost. Music was blaring in the postgame locker room. Players hung around a little longer afterward on a road trip than they usually do. They were thrilled to talk about Bosher’s play. They were ecstatic that Jones, Ridley and Mohamed Sanu all caught touchdown passes in a single game for the first time this season.

They loved the fact they forced the Panthers into four turnovers, with three taking place in the red zone. Grady Jarrett was pumped for Crawford’s first career interception.

“Jack is always running to the ball,” Jarrett said. “When you’re running hard, good things will happen.”

The Falcons shut the Panthers down after they opened with a 14-play touchdown drive. While the Falcons recorded only two sacks, they added eight quarterback hits, with Takk McKinley notching four. Carolina quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who gutted out what looked to be a painful elbow injury, was frequently running for his life.

Atlanta also totaled more than 100 rushing yards for the third consecutive week, with Brian Hill making the most out of his first game of extended action. Hill rumbled for 115 yards on only eight carries, including a late-fourth-quarter handoff for a 60-yard gain.

While the Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs last week, it does appear they are doing what they can to make the most out of the situation. At 6-9, Atlanta has a shot to end the year on a three-game winning streak at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

“Any time you come into another team’s stadium and beat them on their turf, there’s nothing better than that feeling,” Crawford said. “Coming in and getting the W and flying home is great. It definitely heightens the sense of the brotherhood we have and brings everybody closer. We’re going to get lessons out of it, too.”

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5 minutes ago, me4falcons said:

Not the first that Bosher has caught some fool slipping and jacked him up.

Those of us who has been around here awhile have seen this before but still get hyped.

Definitely love me some Bosh. If there were more Bosh in the rest of our D, we'd be 9-6 ~ or better ~ instead of 6-9.

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