Feely shakes off imperfection & comes up big

He may have finally missed, but the little kicker continues to come up big. Jay Feely barely missed a 51-yard field goal in New York's 36-0 drubbing of the Washington Redskins last week at Giants Stadium. In fact, Feely's miss was so close that it just dinged off the left upright. A few inches away from perfection. That's because previous to that miss, Feely had connected on 13 straight field goals to open the season.

"What can you do?" asked Feely, who is quietly having his best season since 2002. "You've got to just shake that off and go back out there. You can't let it bother you mentally.

"You've got to just go out there and make the next one."

And, that's exactly what Feely did, drilling a 33-yarder en route to completing a day that saw him make five of six field goal attempts, just one shy of tying the club record held by Joe Danelo. Danelo kicked six field goals against the Seattle Seahawks in 1981, ironically in a game the Giants won in similar fashion, 32-0.

That Feely was able to kick at all was almost ‘miraculous.'

"It was a blessing from God that I was able to go out and kick," Feely said after the game, nursing a sore left knee that was sporting an ice pack and ace bandage. But his fine performance, which saw him connect on field goals of varying distance, most notably 50 and 44, in addition to almost hitting the 51-yarder, is just what the Giants have come to expect from the 5-10, 206-pound warrior.

"He's been very consistent in the job that he's done in respect to kickoffs and field goals all season long," New York head coach Tom Coughlin said. "(His) field goal percentage has been very, very high."

Which is probably why Coughlin let Feely attempt the 51-yarder. However, the head coach was more impressed with the 50-yarder the Michigan product drilled earlier in the game.

"I thought the real critical one, to be honest with you, was the long one going into the wind," Coughlin said afterward. "At that time, we were deciding whether or not to go for it. We decided to do it, and the kid made it."

But, that has been Feely's story all season long. Neither sore knees, long field goal attempts nor the dreaded Giants Stadium winds have been able to derail him from having his best season statistically since 2002, when he led all NFL kickers in points (138) and attempts (40). His 138 points were second only to electrifying Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, who led the league with 144 points.

In the process, Feely also established Atlanta Falcons' single-season records for field goals (32), attempts, and points. And, he was the first Falcons' kicker since Morten Andersen – not bad company – in 1997-98, to notch consecutive 100-point seasons.

"I'm having more fun now than I ever did (in 2002)," Feely smiled. "I think that's just a sign of maturity, and part of the maturation process. I'm older now, and what really helps me (on kicks) is to really swing through the ball and keep going."

Outsiders are also beginning to take notice of Feely's exploits, such as when ESPN analyst and former Pro Bowl quarterback Ron Jaworski came up to him in the Giants' locker room after the Redskins game, and extended his hand.

"Awesome Jay," Jaworski said, as the two shook hands.

Does this mean that Feely will be kicking in Hawaii in February? Currently, after the season's first eight weeks, Feely is second in the NFL and the NFC in points, behind only Neil Rackers of Arizona, who's connected on 22-of-22 field goals for 73 points. In comparison, Feely has compiled 71 points.

He's also second in the NFC and third in the league in field goals made behind Rackers and Buffalo's Rian Lindell, whose 17 field goals are just one more than Feely's 16. So, Feely has a very good chance to go to the Pro Bowl, though the 29-year-old, now in his fifth NFL season, would much rather be kicking in the Super Bowl.

"I'm not a stats guy at all," he laughed. "I don't care about stats."

Another thing Feely doesn't care about is his previous misses, including the 51-yarder that ruined his perfect season.

"When I hit it, I thought I made it," he said. "Normally, you can tell.

"What can you do? If you keep kicking 50-yard field goals, you're going to miss one here and there, so you can't let it bother you."

These days, not even imperfection can bother Feely.

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