Buehler had missed a 35-yard field goal earlier in the game. Kickers are a little like pitchers in baseball, in the sense that they have to be able to forget their previous successes and failures and perform the task that is asked of them. A pitcher who frets too much about the three-run home run he gave up in the previous inning might well serve up another meatball that gets driven into the cheap seats; likewise, a kicker who stresses about an earlier miss runs the risk of overcompensating on his next effort.
“You definitely try not to think about the last one, whether you miss a short one or hit one from 50 (yards) Buehler said. “You might focus in a little harder. It’s not like the target gets smaller, or the goalposts get closer together (in the kicker’s eyes), but you definitely want it more. You concentrate every way you can.”
Buehler drilled the late field goal to lift his team to a victory over the Redskins and out of sole possession of last place in the NFC East (Dallas and Washington now have matching 5-9 records). Much of the credit for his game-winning field goal, and his successes throughout the season, goes to kicking coach Chris Boniol, Buehler said.
“Chris has helped me a lot,” Buehler said. “We have done some physical things, with the actual mechanics of the way I kick, but more than that, he has helped me realize that you really have to go at them (field goals) one by one. The last one has no effect at all on the next one. Every time you go out there, you have to forget your last kick.
(Houston Texans kicker) Neil Rackers said he heard from — I don’t know, maybe it was Adam Vinatieri or Gary Anderson … one of those really well-respected kickers — that kicking is a roller coaster. You have to minimize the drops and minimize the rises.”
The lesson is logical enough, like the golfer who has to forget his last lob into the sand as well as his last 300-yard drive. The last one won’t direct the ball this time around. But for an über-cometitive guy like Buehler, forgetting an earlier mistake sometimes is easier said than done.
“I get pissed off when I miss,” Buehler said. “I don’t know if that will ever change. I just don’t like to miss — it irks me.
“But Chris has helped me a lot, and I work with veteran guys who have been through it all. L.P. and Mat have been doing this a long time, and they know how to help you forget. I’m very lucky to work with guys like that.”
Against the Redskins, Buehler said he was able to forget his earlier miss, and focus instead on his earlier success.
“I was mad about the miss, but I had made one, too,” he said. “I’m not going to make every field goal — nobody is. Kickers miss sometimes, even short ones. You hope you don’t miss, but eventually you’re going to.
“But if you want to stick around, you have to be able to leave those behind. When you go out there, the only kick that matters is the one you’re about to make. Nothing else matters. If you can get to that point, you have a chance to be successful. I’m getting better at that.”