With a little under two minutes remaining in the first half, Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed a a 48 yard field goal attempt. Although it was not necessarily a critical kick in the Panthers 17-6 win over the Raiders, Gano did get another opportunity with a little under three minutes remaining in the second half - this time connecting from 51 yards.
"I wanted that kick. I was hoping that I would have that opportunity since I had missed that earlier one."
For New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley, the second (and third) opportunities did prove to be critical. The miss came early in the second quarter and was wide left from 36 yards.
"Obviously, the hit on the ball wasn’t where I wanted it, and it tailed off to the left. I knew we had a lot of football left to play, and I had to stay positive."
The second opportunity came on the final play of the first half and was good from 37 yards. The third opportunity, although only from 20 yards, came in overtime. It was good and the saints won 34-31 over the Cowboys.
"When the end came I looked at them and said, `Well, I guess it’s going to come down to us,’ It’s like a horse with blinders, you’re just focused on what you need to do, and we went out there and executed.... Just the basics, you know, the fundamentals. Strike through the ball, follow through and elevate it."
The winning kick also had significance for the trio of specialists, as Hartley, holder Chase Daniel and snapper Justin Drescher had all gone to the same high school in Texas:
"It felt great, especially with all of us being from Southlake and doing it here at Texas Stadium. With Drescher on the snap and Chase on the hold, I was just the final piece to the puzzle. To put the final points on the board, it really meant a lot."