Tynes Saves The Day

What can you say about kickers? Over the last five seasons, former head coach Dick Vermeil despised them to one degree or another. Yes, they were a necessary evil, but he's never been a fan of them.

Considering that he started his career as a special teams coach in college, you'd think he would have warmed to them before he retired from the game last January. One of those players that used to raise the hair on the back of his neck was none other than Sunday's hero, Lawrence Tynes.

Growing up as a Chiefs fan, I was spoiled. I enjoyed Jan Stenerud when he was the best the AFL had to offer, and Nick Lowery was outstanding in the early 1990's.

But since then, the Chiefs have had only marginal kickers. Pete Stoyanovich was a clutch kicker, but his leg eventually failed him. Morten Andersen, who kicked the game winner in Atlanta on Sunday, was one of the best of all time, but his career in Kansas City only lasted a few seasons.

Tynes came to the Chiefs from the CFL in 2004. He had a reputation for a strong leg, but had not proven that he could make big game-winning kicks.

That perception changed in the mind of Chiefs fans when Tynes hit his first career game-winner back on Christmas Day in 2004. He nailed a 38-yarder that gave the Chiefs a one-point victory over the Oakland Raiders.

He's made some big kicks in his career, but none was bigger than the one he hit on Sunday. With the season on the line, Tynes stepped up to attempt a 48-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the game.

After the Chargers tried to ice Tynes by calling a timeout, he calmly nailed the kick, but tight end Kris Wilson was called for a false start. Tynes had to line it up five yards further back, but told reporters he thanked Wilson for the warm up.

"It was good to get that one in there," said Tynes of the first attempt. "If they moved it back ten yards, I knew I was going to make it."

But Tynes wasn't perfect by any means. Sunday's game might not have come down to the wire had he not missed a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter and an extra point later.

"I hated to do it to my teammates," said Tynes of his two missed kicks.

That says a lot about Tynes, who has never shied away from the media, regardless if he clanks one off the goalpost or nails it down the middle. His demeanor is terrific, and exactly the kind of mindset a kicker needs to be successful in the NFL in pressure situations.

In fact, Sunday's game was not the first time Tynes had missed two kicks in a game before redeeming himself. He had one blocked and hit the cross bar on a 50-yarder before nailing the game-winner in that same Oakland game.

"You just don't want to miss three kicks in a game," said Tynes. "The most important thing is that we won the game."

An NFL kicker has to have a mindset that allows you to forget the last kick instantly. Tynes does that better than most, and his confidence never wavers.

"When I miss, I think about it for twenty seconds," said Tynes. "I just wanted to get another chance. You just have to shake it off. Our motto around here is ‘one snap and clear,' and that's what I live by."

Last year, Tynes missed a potential game-tying field goal at Dallas after a poor snap. It might have been harder to forget that game, but after Sunday, any doubts still lingering in the mind of Chiefs fans should be put to rest.

It's a stretch to include Tynes in the same company as Stenerud, Lowery and Andersen, but Sunday's clutch kick certainly puts him on the right track.

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