The script was flipped in many ways for Randolph Richard Bullock on Sunday. Instead of the North end zone, it was the South end zone. Instead of no fans in attendance, there were a few thousand. Instead of trailing the opposition, his team was out in front.
With an eight point lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter, the Cincinnati Bengals made nine plays turn into six minutes as they drove down the field and into the red zone. A little over 100 seconds remained in the game, and a 30-yard field goal attempt was standing in the way of the Bengals leading by two scores and securing their first win of the season.
This time, it wasn’t at the climax of a potential game-winning drive, and it wouldn’t ultimately decide the game. But when Randy Bullock needed to make a late fourth quarter field goal for the Cincinnati Bengals, he was perfect. Just like he’s been since the tale of two calves.
Bullock’s 31-yard shank back in Week 1 made him an easy target for Bengals fans, and considering his injury status was...unique, his defense wasn’t as strong as the inaccuracy of that chip shot boot.
The Bengals brought in kicker Austin Siebert in case Bullock’s calves continued to pester him, not to challenge Bullock with competition. They placed all of their confidence in him making things right. How has he responded?
In the last three weeks, Bullock has nailed all 10 of his field goal attempts and all eight of his extra point attempts. He’s had four kicks from 40-49 yards away since then; all four have gone through the uprights. And aside from booting it out of bounds in Week 3, he’s hit the now minimal standards for kickoff duties as well.
There’s something to be said about when a kicker’s accuracy doesn’t spiral out of control because of one critical miss. Kudos to Bullock for avoiding that irreversible pitfall, but we also must recognize this didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.
Bullock is 12-13 on the season, and after hitting his last aforementioned 10 kicks, his career field goal percentage with the Bengals now sits at 87.1%. That’s 81 field goals made on 93 field goals attempted.
87.1% is the highest career field goal percentage in Bengals history. And it now belongs to the guy many fans prefer referring to as “Fat.”
This three-week stretch has been impressive for Bullock, who has now played 54 games in Cincinnati, but it’s not like he’s ever been inaccurate from the range that he’s operated under recently. Sure, it’d be nice if he had greater accuracy from beyond 50 yards. Yes, it’d be wonderful if his rare misses wouldn’t come at critical moments. Both shortcomings are why many would like to see the team look in a different direction again.
Here’s why that’s probably not in the cards. Since 2016, the year the Bengals signed Bullock to replace Mike Nugent, Bullock is seventh in field goal percentage out of 33 kickers with at least 50 attempts.
It’s why this mini-redemption arc isn’t dominating any media outlets or is really that compelling of a story. It’s just a maligned player doing, by and large, what he’s consistently been doing for the better part of four years.
And that’s good enough for us.