Watching a long field goal gets me so fired up I want to dust off my football kicking holder and bang a few through the uprights myself. The yawning space between the kicker and the goal posts, the audaciousness of the endeavor, the prekick tension, the soaring arc of the ball itself. When I faux-kicked for the Broncos in training camp in 2006, my personal-best 40-yarders (on an empty practice field) felt like Super Bowl winners. Kicking a football far is hard, and hell of a lot of fun.
So, naturally, I spent the morning deconstructing the video of Sebastian Janikowski's record-tying 63-yard field goal in the Raiders' 23-20 win over the Broncos in Denver. Before I go all dork kicker, let me just say how elated I am at how much of the conversation this season has revolved around the kicking game. Is the NFL conspiring to eliminate kickoffs? Will kickers blast it out of the end zone or loft it to the goal line? What will the kicker do? And now Sea Bass joins a club consisting of Jason Elam of the Broncos, who made his kick in the same circumstances (the last play of the first half) in the same city against the Jaguars in October 1998, and the Saints' stub-footed Tom Dempsey, who made a last-second game-winner in New Orleans against the Lions in November 1970. More headlines for kickers! Yay!
That Janikowski did what he did last night should surprise absolutely no one. Dude goes 6-2, 250, and has a redwood leg and driver distance. In 12 years on mostly terrible Oakland teams—a fact that has depressed his scoring totals—he's made 79 percent of his field goals, and he has improved with experience and opportunity. And, while he's had a reputation as a meathead troublemaker, Janikowski hasn't been arrested—not for fighting in bars or restaurants, for bribery, for GHB possession, for DUI, or anything else!—since 2003. That he was the rare kicker selected in the first round of the NFL draft only made the mockery easier.