ALAMEDA, Calif. -- As we continue with our 10 Plays That Defined the Oakland Raiders' Season series, and in chronological order, we look at the season opener…
Sept. 8, at Indianapolis: Sebastian Janikowski misses a 48-yard field goal at the end of first half.
Now, to the average leg, a 48-yarder is no sure thing. But for the richest, most powerful gam in the game, it's as close to a done deal as you can get. Or have you not heard his teammates refer to Janikowski as “Automatic SeaBass” over the years?
The rebuilt Raiders were within 14-7 of the host Colts as they drove to the Indianapolis 30-yard line late in the second quarter and coach Dennis Allen allowed the clock to run down to four seconds before calling timeout. Onto the field trotted Janikowski, who had made 36 of his previous 39 field goals, with his only misses coming from 51, 61 and 64 yards.
Something was different, though. For the first time in his NFL career -- Janikowski was Al Davis' polarizing first-round draft pick in 2000 -- he had a new holder. Marquette King had replaced Shane Lechler, who left as a free agent for the Houston Texans, and the relationship between kicker and holder became a major storyline throughout the season.
As would the left-footed Janikowski's issues from the left hash mark. In fact, his first six misses came from the left hash. And this is where he was on this play at Lucas Oil Field.
Janikowski was wide left as the first half ended as the Raiders walked off the field in a fog, and it would prove costly later in the game. On their final drive, the Raiders were within 21-17 and needed a touchdown as they got to the Indianapolis 8-yard line with less than two minutes to play. But Terrelle Pryor took a 16-yard sack and threw an incompletion before being picked off by Antoine Bethea with 25 seconds left to essentially end the game.
Had Janikowski been successful before the half, the Raiders would have merely needed a 26-yard chip shot field goal to win the game.
Janikowski's issues continued throughout the season as he missed key early field goals in losses to Washington, Kansas City and Tennessee, and his nine misses on the year were more than the seven he missed the previous two seasons combined.
And his 70-percent make mark was the third-lowest of his career.
Check back Friday for Play No. 3 ...