Bad day for veteran booters

Kicking credentials didn't matter Sunday as two veteran kickers -- one old guard, the other in the heart of a record-setting career -- missed short field goals in the Vikings' 31-17 win over the Packers on frozen Lambeau Field.<P>

At the 44, Andersen is the oldest player in the NFL and has seen it all in his second decade of NFL service, albeit most of it indoors or in warm weather. Longwell, the best of the next generation of kickers, feels right at home on the tundra.

In the first half, the blocked Morten Andersen 27-yard field goal attempt got an assist from the weather. The frozen field appeared to be the culprit as Andersen's plant foot slipped. The ensuing kick was low, driving directly into the back of Andersen's own lineman.

The block may have given the veteran kicker a bit of deja vu. The last opponent to have a field goal blocked in Lambeau was Andersen, then with Kansas City. His 48-yard attempt was blocked by Marques Anderson on Oct. 12, 2003 in overtime.

Longwell, who provided the game-winner in the last two Green Bay-Minnesota contests, didn't slip, but just appeared to flat-out miss a 28-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. The last time Longwell failed to connect on a post-season field goal was in the Packers' OT win over the Seahawks last season, when he missed a 47-yarder. He missed two in the Pack's disastrous loss to Atlanta the previous year, but both of those were from beyond 40 yards as well. The shortest field goal Longwell has missed in the playoffs was a 44-yarder in the 27-7 loss to the Falcons Jan. 4, 2003.

Longwell has missed only six times in his career from inside 29 yards, regular and post-season combined. Curiously, all of those misses have been from exactly 28 yards. Four 28 yard attempts were blocked (once each in 1999-2003). Before Sunday, the eighth-year player out of Cal has flat-out missed from that distance only once. The rookie found himself with a chance to win a game for the defending Super Bowl champions on the road in Philadelphia on Sept. 9, 1997. A fluke downpour started minutes before the kick, and the crummy Veteran's Stadium carpet provided a poor place for a 22-year-old's first game-winning attempt. The kick missed, and the Packers lost for the first time since Nov. 18, 1996 at Dallas, breaking a 9-game streak which included Super Bowl XXXI.

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