Kicking with a Game on the Line

December 11, 2006

JOSH BROWN
SEAHAWKS

On Sunday, Brown(above) beat the Broncos with his NFL-record-tying fourth game-winning kick ofthe season. "I go into those kicks thinking about practice, thinking aboutthe same rhythms I had three days ago," says Brown. "I'm doingrepetitions in my head, good positive moments, and then--boom!--replaying themon the field. Beforehand I talk to Steve Landro, the ball guy on the sideline.He keeps me relaxed. We don't talk about the situation. We talk about thingsgoing on, about people in the stands. The [home] fans get more encouraging withtheir screaming: 'C'mon, Brown. We believe in you.' So we're like, 'Don't theyever think maybe I want them to leave me alone?' We just goof around. When he'snot there, I'll talk to a police officer or somebody." Brown, who traceshis confidence this season to soul-searching he did after missing a potentialgame-winner last year against Washington, says he isn't even bothered by fanswho heckle on the road. "'Wide left! You suck! You're horrible! Upright!'You're going to hear that stuff," says Brown. "That's just the way itgoes."

LAWRENCETYNES
CHIEFS

"I take deepbreaths and tell myself, Go out and be a hero," says Tynes, who is gratefulwhen an opponent calls time to "freeze" him before a kick. "I loveit. You get to gauge the wind and look at your spot, clean it up if it's notsmooth. It helps. The best part of the game is to see grown men jumping up anddown because of something that came off your foot, that's the best. When youmiss? There's nothing worse. It's like when your parents say they'redisappointed in you."

SHAYNEGRAHAM
BENGALS

When Cincy hasthe ball late, says Graham, "I go near the goalpost and take pieces ofpaper or trash and flip them in the air to see where the wind's going. I maylook like a weirdo, but I don't care. The fun thing about making one is thedifference in sound. At home it goes from quiet to loud, away it goes from anuproar to dead silent. They're equally rewarding. After an away game you see itthe next day on film, and you see people behind the goalpost holding up theirmiddle fingers, holding up signs. I don't see it when it's happening, but it'sfunny to see it on film."

NATEKAEDING
CHARGERS

"I like torun on the field far behind where I'm going to kick," says Kaeding."It's a trick I play with my mind. I'm looking at the uprights 20 yardsfarther than I'm going to be. Then when I come to my spot, it looks like ashorter kick. For [road] fans [heckling at that time] is their favorite thingin the world. They read the media guide: 'Hey, your dad, Larry, I saw him outlast night.' You know that at work the next day they [want to] brag, 'I got inthe kicker's head and made him miss.'"

JOSH SCOBEEJ
AGUARS

"I kicked agame-winner in Indy, and [Colt] Bob Sanders' face mask hit my knee," Scobeesays. "I fell down to try to draw a penalty. I lay there, then accidentallykneed our doctor in the groin on a reflex check. I was ready to get up, but heasked me to stay down while he composed himself. The fans thought I was faking,so when I came back out for kickoff, they let me have it. They got a 'Yousuck!' chant going."

DAVID AKERS
EAGLES

"It feels alot worse to miss one than it feels good to make one--making one is more asense of relief that you didn't screw up," Akers says. "[Before apotential game-winner] teammates say things like 'You can hit this.' I don'trespond much." Akers recalls a narrow success in Cleveland in 2004. "Inovertime Coach [Andy] Reid asked what my range was in the conditions. I said 50yards. We got to about the 32-yard line and had a 50-yard kick. If it was 51,I'm not sure we would have made it."

TWO PHOTOSCARLOS OSORIO/AP (2, BROWN) PHOTOCHARLIE RIEDEL/AP (TYNES) PHOTOBARRY TAYLOR/WIREIMAGE.COM (GRAHAM) PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (KAEDING) PHOTOPHIL COALE/AP (SCOBEE) PHOTOHUNTER MARTIN/WIREIMAGE.COM (AKERS)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)