Familiar Territory for Gould

Lake Forest - Robbie Gould will be revisiting some familiar turf this Sunday when the Bears meet the Vikings at the Metrodome. Although in his first year in the league, Gould has played in the Metrodome before, going back to his days at Penn State. And although Gould isn't sure at this point just how much of an advantage that familiarity will be, it should make him more comfortable than the average rookie kicker.

One factor that Gould won't have to consider before heading north is the weekend's weather forecast. Instead, he's looking forward to the predictability of kicking in climate-controlled conditions.

Gould kicked the longest field goal of his career last weekend in Green Bay when he connected from 45 yards. Previous to that attempt he was 17-of-18 inside 40-yars, and just 2-of-7 from beyond the mark.

Gould talks about the Packers, the Vikings and the upcoming playoff run.

It was good for my confidence to get the long one in against Green Bay. The weather conditions weren't much of a factor as it wasn't really windy and it was relatively mild for late December. It was pretty much what we'd practiced in all week.

I felt that I could make the long kick without any problem. I always try to be completely confident whenever I step up to the ball. Brad Maynard did a great job of placing it for me. Once it left my foot, I was pretty sure that it would sail right in. But I have to admit that it's always a relief when it goes right through.

I hadn't realized the intensity of the Green Bay-Chicago rivalry until I was actually playing there in Lambeau Field. It was pretty strong at Soldier Field, but up there, it was amazing. As a rookie I am familiar with college rivalries, but this is another level entirely. Winning up there was important for us, not only to clinch the division but to beat the Packers. That we were able to do both made it a memorable day.

I could hear the Bears fans in back of us. There were a lot of them seated directly behind out bench. One of my buddies who was watching from home said they were so loud he could hear them clearly over what the TV announcers were trying to say.

That fan support is important when you are playing an away game. It makes you want to try harder knowing that there are people who care enough to make the trip just to see you play. Because the game was against the Packers, I think what the fans did had the desired effect. The Green Bay fans seemed pretty annoyed while all this was going on. We thought it was great.

I'm really excited about going into the playoffs. That first weekend off with the bye is incredibly important for us as a team. It gives a lot more time to get a game plan together and to give everyone a chance to rest. At this point in the season, you want all the downtime you can get.

Looking back a year ago or even a few months ago, I am astounded that I am with a playoff team. It's beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Yes, there is added pressure, but it is a positive kind of pressure. You've accomplished something really important and now you have the opportunity to help the team progress from there.

The upcoming game isn't one that anybody is going to take for granted. The Vikings don't much care for the Bears and that feeling is mutual. When people ask me what we have to play for this weekend I tell them: respect and pride. Once the clock starts, you're all business, whether you are playing for a Super Bowl spot, or just wanting to finish out your season. We'll be playing as hard as we have been all year.

Having played in the Metrodome before, I know what to expect. It's a good place to be a kicker. The ball goes pretty much the way it should. That's the luxury of being in a dome.

When I kicked for Penn State and we played Minnesota I was struck by how professional the atmosphere was up in Minneapolis. That was a place for serious football. The Metrodome seemed somewhat intimidating then. It was a pretty big arena with some very loud and enthusiastic fans. But now I understand the layout of the building and can anticipate the noise level. I don't think I'll have any surprises in that regard.

Anytime, anywhere I get a chance to play I'm happy. I never could have guessed a year ago that I'd be doing this now. It's exciting and enjoyable to be in this position.

The player perspective was a summary of an interview between Gould and Bear Report staff writer Beth Gorr.


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