Mr. Clutch

Ho-hum. Just another week - and another game-winning field goal - for Jamie Christensen.

Now, the 81,018 fans packing Bryant-Denny Stadium - and Jamie Christensen's University of Alabama football teammates - don't feel that way.

They were jubilant. Ecstatic. Pumped to have been in the same ZIP code as Christensen after his 34-yard field goal lifted the Crimson Tide to a 6-3 victory over Tennessee Saturday afternoon.

But ask the Tide's clutch sophomore kicker, and you come away with the feeling these sort of things are routine, as mundane as going to the grocery store on a Wednesday afternoon.

Snap. Hold. Kick. Win.

Yawn. That's the mentality of a championship kicker, right before your eyes.

"The kick, I've done it a thousand times," Christensen said minutes after booting the Vols out of Bryant-Denny. "It's no different except what's at stake. I'm glad to be a part of this."

And you'd better believe his teammates are happy to have him.

Christensen now occupies rarified air among Tide kickers.

He's only the third Alabama player to kick a game-winning field goal against Tennessee, joining Phillip Doyle in 1990 and Steve Davis in 1966.

What's more, a little quick research over the past 30 years by the UA sports information staff showed that no UA kicker had made the game-winning field goal in consecutive weeks.

For that matter, no Tide kicker in the past three decades had two game-winning field goals in his career. Period.

"He's clutch - that's all there is to it," said Alabama senior quarterback Brodie Croyle, whose 43-yard third-down strike to D.J. Hall sparked the game-winning drive. "He's been in that situation a lot of times before, and we've got the guy who can kick it in any situation."

The distance was slightly longer than the 31-yard field goal that beat Ole Miss a week earlier, but Christensen said he felt exactly the same. It's a permanent mentality.

"Every game is the same to me," he said. "The uprights are the same length. I'm just glad I could help my team win."

For the second consecutive week, the Norcross, Georgia, native came up huge after an early miss. Christensen hooked a 51-yard try wide left late in the first quarter before making each of his last two kicks.

He did the same thing last week at Ole Miss - shanking the first, then making two that really, really mattered.

"I knew I had to make up for my team after missing the first one," Christensen said. "My hips came around too fast. I knew I had to correct on the second one and I hit that. I did the same thing on the third one and put it through."

After nailing his second try, which snapped a scoreless tie on the final play of the third quarter, Christensen was cool as could be.

While his teammates drove down the field and positioned the ball in the middle of the field for him, Christensen warmed up alone, letting a teammate run interference for him with a phalanx of cameramen looking for the "pressured kicker" shot.

The photogs stayed back. Christensen chilled out. And the rest? History.

"It pretty much came routine," he said. "I was warming up on the sidelines, wasn't talking to anybody. I focused on kicking, then ran out there.

"Snap was perfect, hold was perfect again. And that made my job easy."


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