|Shhh! Bills' Lindell on roll, having hit 17 straight field goal attempts|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 December 2007 14:18|
Just ask Buffalo's Brian Moorman, who found out the hard way last month when he congratulated teammate Rian Lindell for hitting 11 straight field-goal attempts to match a career best.
``I was like, 'Hey, that's cool,''' said Moorman, the Bills punter, who also doubles as the holder on place kicks. ``And he goes, 'Ahhhh! I don't want to talk about it!'''
Lowering his voice, and making sure Lindell wasn't nearby, Moorman added: ``I was like, 'Sorry.' And I haven't said another word since.''
Moorman might be the only one, because word's getting out now that Lindell has extended his streak to 17 to match the franchise record set by Steve Christie in 1994. Lindell's is the longest active NFL streak, and third longest this season, behind Cincinnati's Shayne Graham, who hit 21 straight, and Tennessee's Rob Bironas (19).
So what's Lindell think about the attention, now?
``Oh well, the cat's out of the bag,'' he said.
As for whether the sudden interest might serve as a jinx, Lindell smiled and said: ``Keep writing and we'll take our chances.''
Lindell could be considered the offense's most valuable player on a team that's 6-6 and still in the AFC playoff hunt while preparing to host the winless Dolphins this weekend.
He's gone 20-of-22 this season, leading the league with a 90.9 field goal percentage. Lindell has hit more field goals than the Bills have scored touchdowns - 17 in all and only 13 on offense.
He counts two game winners hit in the final minute, including last weekend. That's when Lindell capped a five field-goal outing by hitting a 36-yarder with 4 seconds left in a 17-16 win at Washington. The performance led to Lindell being named the AFC's special teams player of the week.
In Buffalo's six victories, none of which have been decided by more than 10 points, Lindell is 17-of-17.
``Field goals have had a tremendous effect on whether we win or lose games, so it's good he's on that streak,'' Bills special teams coach Bobby April said. ``Hopefully, he can just keep it going.''
What's impressive is Lindell doesn't have the luxury of playing in many domed stadiums, and spends half his season kicking in the ever windy and sometimes wintery conditions in Orchard Park.
``We've got the toughest deal going,'' said April, who has Lindell and Moorman spend time every week practicing outdoors, a routine that's been coined ``Siberian Husky Training.''
Lindell has an ``aw shucks'' personality that seems rattle proof.
He's an eight-year NFL veteran who spent his first three seasons with Seattle before signing as a free agent with the Bills in 2003.
Lindell struggled that first year in Buffalo, going 17-of-24 on field goal attempts, hampered because he played the second half of the season with a separated shoulder, which affected his balance.
April arrived in 2004 and helped Lindell regain his rhythm.
Lindell did the rest by working on his mental game, building his confidence and not trying to overanalyze situations, such as the wind or climate.
The breakthrough came during practice a few years ago, when Lindell set up for a field goal attempt with a strong wind in his face.
``I thought, 'You know what? Just hit the best ball and don't even worry about the wind,''' Lindell recalled. ``So I hit a good ball and sure enough it went straight. It just kind of clicked from then on.''
Lindell has another streak going, having not missed a point-after attempt. He's at 240, setting the league mark earlier this season for the longest streak to start a career.
``That's nice,'' he said. ``Maybe in 20 years I'll show my kids all the stuff I did. But right now, we've got Miami to worry about.''
Standing at his locker talking about his streaks, Lindell does once reach down to knock on his wooden stool for luck.
``I do keep knocking on wood,'' Lindell said, noting that's one of his few superstitions. ``I've been changing my socks and that kind of stuff so I haven't gotten that crazy. It's still the same old shoe, though, so I'll keep that.''