Ryan Longwell's Brush with Despair

The Packers reliable placekicker came close to despair on Sunday, as a field goal attempt fell just a couple of yards short. Laura talks to Ryan about what went wrong on the attempt and what was going through his mind as the game ended in overtime.

The Packers' 33-27 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks ended on a single mistake by a player who had turned in one of the strongest performances of the day. Until the moment that Al Harris secured the interception and triumphantly raced for the end zone, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had a stellar day.

The script nearly had the same sad ending written for a Packer in a similar situation. Green Bay kicker Ryan Longwell connected on two field goals and three extra points, moving into third place on the team's all-time post-season points list. He became the Packers' all-time scoring leader this season, and has been among the league's most accurate kickers since joining the team as a rookie out of Cal in 1997.

Yet Longwell's hopes of boosting the Packers farther into the playoffs with a game-winning field goal fell about two yards short at the end of regulation, bouncing harmlessly into the end zone as time expired.

"I said we could try it from anywhere obviously, last play of the game," Longwell said of the miss from 47 yards. "I swung as hard as I could, got it on line. I wasn't really concerned about the distance because it was the last play of the game, but I was more concerned with wind right to left, getting it on line. We got it on line, it was a great snap and a great hold and I think we were a couple yards short."

The drive leading to Longwell's final attempt included three consecutive completed passes. Brett Favre opened out of the shotgun with a six-yarder to Green, then went to Robert Ferguson for eight yards and a first down. After a time out, the offense made its big move. Favre hit Javon Walker right over the middle for 27 yards to the Seattle 30.

That meant a 48-yard field goal for Longwell. He was 16-of-19 this season, with all three misses coming in the 40-49 range (45, 49, 40). The winds were swirling and difficult to judge.

"It was terrible," Longwell said of the wind. "Whoever forecasted it, it was a lot worse than it was supposed to be. It was 25 miles per hour, and it was just so cold. Especially going into the south end zone, you were just fighting it every time. And it was going right and left so even PATs we had to aim off-center for the first time in a long time. It was a very tough day."

As his team drew closer, Longwell signaled from the sidelines, holding up his hand.

"When we got to the 30, I told them five more yards and they tried a play and obviously it didn't work out," Longwell said.

After Favre spiked the ball to stop the clock, the Packers jockeyed for position with a handoff to Green, who ran right but was met head-on by Darren Lewis after a one-yard gain.

Seattle called two time outs, although Longwell is not exactly a candidate for "icing," unless the ice is literal with Sunday's wind chill hovering just above zero.

"It was just tough because the wind was blowing right and left and not consistently," Longwell said. "Like the 31-yarder that we had, I had to aim it just inside the right pole to get it through the middle. That's a pretty close range not to aim it almost outside the uprights."

With 5 seconds remaining, Rob Davis' snap was good, as was Doug Pederson's hold. Longwell appeared to hit the ball solidly with enough strength to go the 47 yards. The team and even the broadcasters' initial reactions said ‘yes!' but in a split second, as the ball arched just shy of it's mark, the chorus went silent.

The disappointment Longwell felt eventually eased, erased the moment Harris crossed the goal line. But even in victory, Longwell knows how his former teammate feels, and offered Hasselbeck his support after the game.

"I feel sick for him," Longwell said of Hasselbeck. "I just went up to him and said, 'I love you and you're the best there is and don't forget about it.'

"Obviously he was pretty down," Longwell said. "I mean, I'm happy that we won and obviously happy that we're going to Philly, but he is way, way too good of a guy and way too talented of a guy for it to end it like that."


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