FALCONS NEW STADIUM IS TAKING SHAPE
AS OF AUGUST 2016
FALCONS NEW STADIUM IS TAKING SHAPE
AS OF AUGUST 2016
Andersen was born in Copenhagen and raised in the west Jutland town of Struer, Denmark. As a student, he was a gymnast and a long jumper, and barely missed becoming a member of the Danish junior national soccer team. He visited the United States in 1977 as a Youth For Understanding exchange student. He first kicked an American football on a whim at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. He was so impressive in his one season of high school football that he was given a scholarship to Michigan State University.
Andersen, with his left leg as his dominant kicking leg, starred at Michigan State, setting several records, including a Big Ten Conference record 63-yard field goal against Ohio State University. He was named an All American in 1981. His success landed him the kicking job with the New Orleans Saints.
Andersen's NFL career got off to a rocky start. On his first NFL kickoff to start the strike-shortened 1982 season, Andersen twisted his ankle and missed eight weeks of the season. Despite the early setback, he soon emerged as one of the strongest and most reliable placekickers in the NFL. In his years with the Saints, he was named to six Pro Bowls, kicked 302 field goals, and scored 1318 points. In 1991, against Chicago, Andersen kicked a 60-yard field goal, tying him with Steve Cox for the second-longest field goal in league history at the time, behind the 63-yard record-holder kicked by Tom Dempsey. (Andersen's kick has since been matched by Rob Bironas and surpassed by Sebastian Janikowski, Jason Elam and Matt Bryant.) Andersen's proficiency with field goal kicking earned him the nickname "Mr. Automatic." Following the 1994 season, he was released by the Saints for salary cap purposes and because his accuracy had started to decline.
Following his release by the Saints, Andersen signed with the Atlanta Falcons. He silenced those who felt him to be washed up and was once again named a Pro Bowler during his time in Atlanta. In December 1995 against the Saints, he became the first player in NFL history to kick three field goals of over 50 yards in a single game.
In Week 17 of the 1996 season, Andersen missed a 30-yard field goal that enabled the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the playoffs. Two years later, he kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime in the 1998 NFC Championship Game to beat the Minnesota Vikings and send the Falcons to its first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
There are a number of interesting coincidences between Andersen and former NFL placekicker Gary Anderson. Anderson and Andersen have nearly identical last names, were born within a year of one another outside the United States (Anderson was born in South Africa), came to the United States as teenagers, had long and successful NFL careers throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and hold first or second place in a number of NFL records for scoring, field goals, and longevity. Their overall accuracy is also nearly identical; their career percentage being within .5 % of each other on both FGs and PATs. Also, Anderson missed a field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship Game for the Minnesota Vikings before Andersen kicked his winning kick, both from the same distance as well.
Andersen went on to play with the New York Giants for the 2001 season, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs the following two seasons. In the 2004 offseason, Andersen was beaten out for the kicking job by rookie Lawrence Tynes. He was released by the Chiefs for the final roster cut, and was subsequently signed by the Vikings. Although his leg strength had declined greatly with age, he continued to prove himself accurate for field goals. Having not been signed by a team following the 2004 season, he became a free agent and did not play in 2005. He announced NFL Europe games in the 2005 season.
In January 2006, Andersen was inducted as the first member of the Danish American Football Federation Hall of Fame. Later that year, Andersen returned to the NFL, re-signing with the Atlanta Falcons; Andersen was brought in to help Michael Koenen, who was at the time performing double duty as punter and kicker (an extremely rare occurrence in the NFL) missing several field goals in that capacity, and Koenen reverted to strictly punting after Andersen's signing. His first game back was against his former team, the Saints, on Monday Night Football. The game was the first game in the Louisiana Superdome since Hurricane Katrina prevented its use for the entire 2005 regular season. Andersen scored the first Falcon points with a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter. In his second game back, Andersen made 5 of 5 field goals (matching his career best for the ninth time), as well as both extra point attempts.He was named NFC special teams player of the week, becoming the oldest player to earn the honor since the award was first introduced in 1984. He is also the team record holder for both the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons for overall points scored.
On December 16, 2006, Andersen passed Gary Anderson to become the all-time leading scorer in NFL history. The following weekend, December 24, 2006 Andersen again passed Anderson to become the NFL's career leader in field goals made.
On September 17, 2007, he again signed with the Falcons in an attempt to secure their unreliable kicking game. By the end of the regular season he had made 25 of 28 field goals (89.3%), the most accurate season of his career.
In the 2008 season, Morten Andersen did not get a contract with any team, but waited until December 8 to officially retire. If Morten Andersen had played on or after December 6, he would have been the oldest NFL player to play, breaking George Blanda's record.
On November 6, 2009, Morten Andersen was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
THE OLDER FALCONS FANS, LIKE MYSELF? WILL REMEMBER MICK LUCKHURST?
Born on March 31, 1958 in Redbourn, United Kingdom, Mick Luckhurst would prove to be a reliable place kicker in the National Football League, spending his entire seven-year career with the Atlanta Falcons.
Luckhurst attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he starred in rugby as well as Football. He was a key player in leading the Bears to their first national collegiate rugby title in 1980. He also held the record for the longest field goal in California history for many years, a 54-yard boot against Oregon State in 1979.
Luckhurst entered the NFL in 1981. His rookie season turned out to be his best in terms of scoring. He finished fifth in the league in total points with 114, and second in extra points with 51. He made 21 out of 33 field goal attempts that season. His next-best season was 1985, when he scored a total of 101 points. He finished in the top 10 for both field goals and extra points made that year.
His best single-game performance was a 15-point effort against the Houston Oilers on October, 25, 1987. Luckhurst booted 4 field goals and 3 extra points, but the Falcons came up short, 33-37.
Luckhurst made perhaps his most memorable play with two legs instead of just one. In his only NFL playoff appearance, Luckhurst ran 17 yards for a touchdown off of a fake kick attempt against the Minnesota Vikings. It was the only running play of his career.
For his career, Luckhurst registered 558 points scored, including 213 extra points and 115 field goals. He missed only 3 extra points in his career for a 98.6 percentage, 40th all-time in the NFL. His career field goal percentage is 70.1, ranking him 83rd all-time.
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