“Stay loose, relaxed and do my job.”
That’s what kicker Randy Bullock was thinking as he approached a 44-yard field goal with five seconds left in regulation of the Bengals’ Week 8 game versus the Buccaneers.
Of course, hitting a game-winning field goal isn’t easy, especially with Mother Nature blowing wind all over the field.
“It was windy,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “It was as gusty as it’s been. (The wind) bounces off the stadium back and forth. Where the wind was in the first quarter was different than it was in the second and the third. The second half was pretty consistent in which way it was going, though.”
Bullock of course knew how windy it was, too.
“It’s something that we had experienced throughout the game,” said Bullock. “You figure that out throughout the course of the game, halftime, or whatever.”
As Lewis said, the wind was not cooperative in the first half. It’s why the Bengals went for it on fourth down in the first quarter. Bullock missed an extra point late in the second quarter. At the time, the score was 27-6, with the Bengals leading by 21. Bullock’s extra point would have given the Bengals 28 points and it would have made the following Buccaneers’ comeback more difficult.
Even so, Bullock had a chance to redeem himself and win the game with five seconds on the clock.
“We had to put a drive together and give ourselves a chance,” said Andy Dalton, “and that’s what we did. Regardless of what was going on in the second half, we needed to make a play, and we did it. To give (kicker) Randy (Bullock) a chance at the end was huge.”
All he needed was a chance. After missing one earlier, Bullock wanted an opportunity to get a win for the Bengals.
“More than anything, I wanted the opportunity,” said Bullock. “I missed a kick earlier. If you miss, the opportunity you have is to go to overtime.”
All he was thinking about was taking advantage of the opportunity he had to close the game out.
“More than anything, you try and take advantage of every opportunity you get,” he said. “More than anything, you look forward to doing your job and helping your team win.”
Even though Bullock had made one extra point after the miss in the second quarter, a 44-yard try on a gusty day with the game on the line is no small thing. But Lewis was happy to have given Bullock another chance.
“We would have been in overtime if we hadn’t,” said the head coach. “At that point in the game, with the game-winning kick, we’re going to take a whack.”
The offense did a great job of setting up the kick, and Bullock took a whack. The kick was good as the clock read double zeroes.
At this point in the season, a kick like that is more than just a win. It means the difference between keeping up with the Steelers in the division and falling behind. Whether or not the Bengals make the playoffs could very well come down to that kick. But Bullock was just thinking about the three points on the scoreboard.
“More than anything, we got a win today,” said Bullock. “Going into the bye week, that’s important.”