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'I cost us:' Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo after missing 2 field goals in Buccaneers loss

Kicker Younghoe Koo hasn't missed more than one field goal in a single game since his rookie season in 2017. 

ATLANTA — The endings of the Atlanta Falcons' two games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023 could not have been more different for kicker Younghoe Koo.

Back in October, Koo was single-footedly responsible for the Falcons' 16-13 victory over the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. He made a game-winning 51-yard field goal as time expired. His teammates hoisted him on their shoulders as they celebrated on the field.

On Sunday, Koo unsolicitedly blamed himself for the Falcons' 29-25 rematch loss to the Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He missed two field-goal attempts in the game. 

"I cost us today," Koo said. "That's all me."

The off kicks were from 50 and 52 yards out. Both occurred in the second quarter. The scoreboard was all tied up when the first went awry. The Falcons were down by two points when the second went amiss.

In a show where the Falcons' depth was tested on both offense and defense, personnel on special teams remained per usual: Liam McCullough snapped the ball, while Bradley Pinion held it for Koo.

"It was good operation by Liam and Bradley – good snap, good hold," Koo said. "I just didn't hit it good. It wasn't good enough."

Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo #6 reacts after kicking a PAT during the fourth quarter of the Week 14 Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, December 10, 2023. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta Falcons)

Mathematically speaking, had Koo made those two field goals, the Falcons would have won. But that's only if nothing else changed on the play-by-play sheet. So, realistically, the victory wouldn't have been a given either way.

"Honestly, it's not Koo's fault," Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder said. "As an offense, we got to do better, get him a better field position so he's not kicking 50-plus yards every single time he's got to go kick the ball."

Koo did make a 20-yard field goal in the first quarter. He was also 2-for-2 on extra points.

The Falcons opted to go for a 2-point conversion after one of their three touchdowns. That was situationally the smart move, because it put the Falcons three points ahead rather than two; a Buccaneers field goal would then tie the game, not give them the lead. The decision wasn't a reflection of Koo.

"Guys played their asses off, and I feel like I cost them today," Koo said. "I'm just gonna go back to work. That's all I can do."

Sunday marked the first time since his rookie season Koo missed more than one field goal in a single game. The only other instance came on Sept. 17, 2017, when Koo went 1-for-3 in the Los Angeles Chargers' 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Between his time with the Chargers (2017) and now with the Falcons (2019-23), Koo has made 147 of his 165 field-goal attempts. That's good for an 89.1% success rate.

This season alone, Koo has made 25 of his 28 field-goal attempts (89.3%). The only other missed kick he had was a 47-yarder during the 20-6 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 3. He was 3-for-3 at or beyond the 50-yard mark before Sunday.

"He's a captain for a reason," Falcons wide receiver Drake London said. "We're going to back Koo forever. He's automatic. This was just a fluke of a game for him. I know when he comes back he's going to be even hungrier. I guarantee you he won't miss another one."

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Week 14.

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