Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mathis Glad to Have Some Old Magic Back 'Connection' Restored with QB Chandler

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mathis Glad to Have Some Old Magic Back 'Connection' Restored with QB Chandler

Article excerpt

SUWANEE, Ga. --- Unlike the other losses of 1999, Terance Mathis managed a smile after last Monday's 13-9 loss at Pittsburgh.

A self-admitted sore loser, Mathis said his psychic connection with quarterback Chris Chandler had finally been re-established. For the first time all year, their ability to create life in the passing game was back.

"It felt like old times," Mathis said. "I'm not happy that we lost, but I'm happy we did the things we're supposed to do --- cut down on the turnovers, cut down on the mistakes and give ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter. We did all of that. We just didn't make the plays on the goal line."

Although Atlanta's final two possessions stalled at the Steelers' 1-yard line and 5-yard line in the last three minutes, Chandler and Mathis had already rekindled some of the magic that helped the team win the NFC Championship a year ago. Mathis caught 12 passes for 166 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown, to push ahead of Andre Rison as the franchise's all-time leading receiver with 427 catches.

The effort came after Chandler endured one of his most difficult weeks. Not only had he missed three of the team's first five starts with a strained right hamstring, but he left in the third quarter against St. Louis on Oct. 17 with flu-like symptoms.

During preparation for the trip to Pittsburgh, Falcons coach Dan Reeves told Chandler the team needed him on the field, not the sidelines, during games. The message was supposed to be a pep talk, but soon it was transformed into a story that Reeves questioned Chandler's resolve.

"I don't care about my critics," Chandler said as he prepared for Sunday's game inside the Georgia Dome against Carolina. "I try to get up and play the next play. A lot of times when things are going bad, people try to create something that's not really there. We saw that last week. When it rains it pours, I guess. I try hard. Sometimes it doesn't work out the way you want, and people have a lot of fun with you. …

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