There's not much that could get Colts fans excited after watching their team blow 26 point fourth quarter lead, even in the preseason. Sending Pat McAfee out to try a long game-winning kick did just that, however.
McAfee, the team's punter and a fan-favorite, has been wanting to kick field goals for a while now. Once Adam Vinatieri retires, McAfee wants to take over as the field goal kicker for the Colts. He has been kicking field goals on and off in training camp and practice now for a few years, including this year, and he's most notable for his strong leg. Thus, when the situation arose and the Colts had a fourth down with 10 seconds left in the game last night down by one point needing a 64-yard field goal, it was McAfee who trotted out to attempt the kick.
Fans were pumped. McAfee was pumped.
Wide left. Game over. Giants win 27-26.
McAfee's reaction on the field said it all, and it was a reaction of dejection and frustration. McAfee knew he could hit it, and we did too. I've seen him make kicks from that distance with ease. Yet last night, when he finally was given an opportunity, he missed it wide left.
There's nothing wrong with missing a 64-yard try - the NFL record, after all, is 64-yards. But McAfee was upset. "I had 100 percent confidence. I am extremely furious it didn't go in," McAfee said. "I thought it was extremely attainable. Hopefully I'll get another shot and it's got to go in." After the game, he simply tweeted one word: "Damn."
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, however, expressed confidence in McAfee. "We see him make them all the time in practice, so I've got great confidence," Pagano said. "It's fourth down, I think we had six yards to go. We've always had it in the back of our minds hoping that the scenario would come up and present itself regardless. So rather than drop back, we were struggling obviously offensively, so I was completely confident and the kid was confident."
"Obviously he had the distance, just a little bit wide left is what I saw. Before this season's over, he's going to hit a game-winner from 60-plus yards, I guarantee it."
Yes, you read that right: Chuck Pagano guaranteed that McAfee would hit a game-winner from 60 or more yards out this season. Of course, in order to do that, McAfee needs to get a chance, and it sounds like Pagano's absolutley planning on giving him that chance if the situation arises.
Hopefully, it won't, as hopefully the Colts won't need a last-second kick to win a game, but realistically, this is the NFL, and the Colts will likely be in a spot where they're behind or tied needing a field goal. If the kick is long enough (55 yards or more, probably), it sounds like it'll be McAfee heading out there, and it sounds like Pagano's counting on giving him the chance at some point.
Heck, maybe it'll even come in week one in Denver - where the record 64-yard kick was set by Matt Prater and where McAfee can hit from 70 or so yards. Elsewhere, I know beyond any doubt (just like McAfee and Pagano do) that Pat can hit a 64-yard kick. He just didn't last night. According to Pagano, it sounds like he'll hit one soon enough.