From Goat to Hero
When Nick Novak missed a 49-yard field goal attempt with just over thirty seconds to go in the Redskins-Cowboys game on Sunday, journalists everywhere likely started thinking up their Monday morning headlines to spoof Novak's blowing a chance to win the game. “Novak No Good”, “Novak Pushes Redskins Win Wide Right,” fill in your own desperate ending. As the Cowboys marched the ball into field goal territory themselves over the last thirty seconds of the game, surely those headlines had become the start of articles detailing the demise of the Washington Redskins' 2006 season.
But a miraculous thing happened with just six seconds to go, the Washington Redskins finally caught a break. Dallas had completed what appeared to be a back-breaking completion at the Redskins 19-yard line, and Mike Vanderjagt trotted on the field to kick what would surely be a game winning chip shot from 36 yards. Vanderjagt has certainly come under much scrutiny in Dallas, but wasn't it more probable that he'd make this kick in a game that had seen nearly every call and break go against the Redskins? Couple that with the Cowboys recent domination of the Redskins, and this seemed like the end of just another heart breaking loss in the rivalry.
But Troy Vincent changed all of that when he beat his block on the field goal attempt, and penetrated deep enough to get his hand on the kick. The Redskins had thwarted the Cowboys game-winning field goal and were going to actually get another chance in the game. But wait.
The Redskins didn't just fall on the block and take the game into overtime, Sean Taylor had visions of grandeur in his head. Taylor picked up the ball and broke tackle after tackle as he muscled his way down the field all the way to the Cowboys 45-yard line to run out the clock. But wait again. There was a little yellow hankie on the field as well.
When the referee announced that there was a 15-yard personal foul (face-masking) penalty on the Cowboys on the return, suddenly the Redskins were on the Cowboys 30-yard line. Suddenly, the Redskins were going to get an opportunity to kick their own game-winning field goal because of the added untimed down due to the penalty.
Novak was going to get a shot at redemption from 47-yards. The crowd at Fed Ex Field collectively held it's breath as the ball left the boot of Novak; the kick started wide but began to drift back into the realm of possibility as it neared the uprights. Time stood still for 91,000-plus Redskin fans as they struggled to see if the kick was long enough.
And it was. In what will undoubtedly be talked about as one of the biggest game-ending plays of the season, the Redskins bought Novak another chance, and he made good. In the span of just over thirty seconds of game clock, Novak went from goat to hero.
A kicker leads a lonely existence in the NFL, and until that ball sailed just over the uprights with the clock reading double zeros, Novak seemed destined for Heartbreak Hotel this week. In a world of all-or-none for kickers, this week Nick Novak gets all the glory that he earned.
Game Note: Brandon Lloyd had a great game on and off the ball. Make sure to catch the THN exclusive B.Lloyd Show on Wednesday at noon for the full details straight from Brandon himself.
This article was released on 2006-11-05.
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