FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Arthur Smith's heart rate didn't spike as he sent Younghoe Koo out onto the field to kick the game-winning field goal against Miami on Sunday. He said it was just like calling any other play in - say - the second quarter. It didn't matter that the game was on the line, the confidence he has in Koo to get the job done outweighs any nervousness he may have felt in the moment.
"I had all the confidence in the world, just like I did in New York, that he was going to smoke that thing in there," Smith said, "and he did."
Koo's 36-yard field goal against the Dolphins was his 70th made field goal as a Falcon. In honor of the kick that sealed the game, I took a look back at some of the most memorable Koo field goals throughout his three seasons in Atlanta, ranking my top five. And don't worry, this list includes a bit of input from Koo, himself.
5. Sending the Falcons to overtime in Tampa in 2019
This was a come-from-behind, overtime win against the Buccaneers that Koo played a major role in. He kicked five - yes, five - field goals in that game, one of which came in the final seconds of regulation to send the Falcons and Bucs to overtime. It was a 34-yard field goal that Koo sliced right through the uprights.
The Falcons would go on to win this game, finishing the season on a dramatic high note with a walk off, pick six from Deion Jones. But don't forget Koo's role in this win. It was an important one consider Koo's leg got the Falcons 16 of the 28 points necessary to beat Tampa Bay that day.
4. The 52-yarder vs. Tampa Bay in 2020
Here's the true story about how I came to put this field goal at No. 4:
I actually had a completely different field goal in this spot. In my original list, I put Koo's career-long 54-yarder against Carolina last year at No. 4. Then, I spoke to Koo after practice. I told him I was working on this ranking, and I asked for his input. As he started his own list, it actually matched up perfectly to mine. He listed four of the five field goal on this list (of which I write just because I am pretty proud of myself that I narrowed it down to the ones he was thinking about, too). But where I had his career-long, he had this 52-yarder against the Buccaneers. And since this is a list about Koo, he gets the final say.
Perhaps it was the moment - more than the kick itself - that Koo appreciates more. This kick not only gave the Falcons the 27-24 lead over Tampa Bay in the fourth quarter, but it also marked Koo going 8-for-8 in field goals from 50-plus yards out in 2020. He held up the "Koo is True" moniker in 2020, and this moment was a major reason why.
3. Game-winner vs. Miami in 2021
What some people may overlook about this kick was that it was originally supposed to be a 31-yard field goal, not the 36-yarder it ended up being. A false start on the Falcons line pushed the kick back. This didn't phase Koo at all. When asked about it, Koo said you can't think about it. You just have to react to it.
"It's a split second and it's like, 'OK. I have to do the same process at 36 as I would at 31,'" Koo said. "Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if it was 31 or 36. If I miss it I am not going to be like, 'Oh, if it was 31 I would have made it.' It doesn't matter. Nobody cares. You've gotta just put it through."
Good thing for Koo (and the Falcons, too), he did.
Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo made an impressive debut with the team going 4-4 on field goal attempts and 2-2 on extra point attempts against the Saints. The performance earned Koo NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
2. Koo's debut vs. the Saints in 2019
OK, so this isn't technically one singular kick, but it deserves a spot here nonetheless. And if you really wanted to highlight just one field goal from this game, take your pick, because there were four to choose from as Koo went 4-4 in the upset over divisional rivals New Orleans. Perhaps you'd choose the 48-yarder. That or his very first field goal as a Falcon (the 37-yarder) is what Koo would choose. The 48-yarder was probably the most impressive of the four, and a career-long for Koo at the time.
However, the context of this game and Koo's performance in it were the main reasons it cracked the top two of this ranking. Making his way to the Falcons in October of 2019, Koo joined a team on a downward slide. This eventual win in New Orleans acted almost as a catalyst for a team going through an early season rut.
The Falcons upset the Saints at home, sacking Drew Brees six times and keeping New Orleans out of the endzone. The Saints were on a six-game win streak at the time.
For Koo, this was likely the game that put him on the kicker map, per se. The Falcons acquired Koo off the streets on October 29, as the Patriots cut him two weeks prior. Koo's performance in his November 10 Falcons debut earned him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. So, yes, it was a debut to remember.
1. Game-winner vs. Giants in 2021
Perhaps this is No. 1 because it was Koo's first game-winning field goal for the Falcons. Perhaps it's No. 1 because it was from 40-yards out. Perhaps it's No. 1 because it got the Falcons its first win of the Arthur Smith era. Perhaps it's No. 1 because it's all of these things combined into one moment.
It's difficult not to put this kick anywhere but the top spot on this list. It was the difference in the Falcons starting the season 0-3. And instead, it's a moment that sparked a team looking for a bit of a confidence booster early in the 2021 season.
There's still a lot of the season left to play, and one would assume many more Koo moments to come, but as of right now, this moment stands atop at No. 1.