Mike Vanderjagt has quieted the critics, at least for now, as the most accurate kicker in NFL history kicked two field goals, including a 50-yarder that went right down the middle, in his Dallas Cowboys debut.
Apparently, getting to kick field goals in the Cowboys’ 27-10 win over the Redskins after being kept inactive for the regular-season opener at Jacksonville was more than a big deal to kicker Mike Vanderjagt.
After Sunday night’s game here at Texas Stadium, when he went two-for-two on field goals with a 26-yarder as well as a 50-yarder, Vanderjagt said waiting for a chance to “quiet the critics” was harder than the kick that’s haunted him since last season.
“It was 100 times harder than missing a kick against Pittsburgh,” Vanderjagt said about waiting for his Cowboys debut in a regular-season game. “It was real hard to take. It was real hard to deal with. I came to a new team, and I just wanted to kick – the reason I was here. And when you’re not provided that opportunity it’s kind of discouraging.”
This week, Vanderjagt got his chance, and he took advantage of it. He said he thinks he broke the supposed curse that had been hovering over him since missing the 46-yard, last-second kick that would have send his Colts into overtime in a second-round playoff game last season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It was a little nerve-racking at first, but once I got the little short one under my belt, that was certainly a good way to start,” said Vanderjagt, who signed the three-year, $5.4 million deal with the Cowboys in the off-season. “And certainly extra points make you feel good. And any time you can hit a 50 (-yard field goal), it’s certainly going to help your confidence. I never doubted my ability, but you’ve got to make sure you still have it. And I felt good about how it went.”
As a Cowboys fan, so did I! While I was never worried that his career was permanently derailed by missing a rather long field goal in a playoff game, I had some concern about the nagging injury and the nagging by the head coach. It looks like both are past him, at least for now.
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