Kicker writes his name into NFL record books with 8 field goals
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rob Bironas approaches each kick the same no matter the time of the game or the distance. He also never keeps track of how many he's booted.
That focus helped as he bounced through the training camps of three NFL teams, two Arena Football League clubs, and yes, even a short stint in af2, the AFL's own minor league. The kicker who finally found a roster spot in Tennessee won't soon forget his record day with the Titans.
Bironas kicked an NFL-record eight field goals Sunday, the last a 29-yard game-winner that salvaged a 38-36 win in Houston. He also had a league record 26 points by a kicker, topping Dallas' Billy Cundiff's 23 against the Giants on Sept. 15, 2003.
He can't remember his previous best for field goals in a single game. For the record, his previous best in the NFL was 4-of-4 on Nov. 27, 2005, in a win against San Francisco.
"Never really counted, but I will remember this one," Bironas said.
Bironas, who turns 30 in January, made NFL history by connecting on field goals of 52, 25, 21, 30, 28, 43, 29 and, again, 29 yards. A lost fumble at the Houston 20 in the first quarter and a delay-of-game penalty that backed the Titans out of field-goal range in the fourth kept him from even more.
"He could've kicked 10 field goals in this game. And 10 field goals gets you 30 points, and 30 points wins you most ballgames. Who cares about red zone efficiency?" Fisher joked.
Bironas, who had Monday off, had a good start by kicking his first field goal this season from 50 yards or longer, tying the third longest of his career.
"It is bad to open the game like that, but it is always more fun to put one point on six after a touchdown," Bironas said. "But we'll take a field goal when we need it."
Then he worked his way through a variety of records.
He had five by halftime, matching the franchise record for a game held by Al Del Greco (2000) and Roy Gerela (1969), and also tying him with Atlanta's Morten Andersen (Sept. 3, 2000 against Philadelphia) and Dallas' Chris Boniol (Nov. 18, 1996 against Green Bay) for most field goals in a half.
"Somebody told me at halftime we kicked five by then, and I knew that was something. The offense kept putting us in position to kick field goals, and I am going to go out there and do my job. I am not really thinking about how many are going up until we get back into the locker room," he said.
Bironas grabbed the franchise record with his 43-yarder in the third quarter, then tied Billy Cundiff, Boniol, Rich Karlis and Jim Bakken with a 29-yarder in the fourth.
Still, he might not have had a shot at the NFL record if not for the Titans' stunning, fourth-quarter collapse. They blew a 32-7 lead by giving up 29 points and wound up with only 57 seconds to salvage a victory.
He stood on the sideline, waiting for backup quarterback Kerry Collins to give him another shot and warming up for a long attempt. Then he saw Collins hit Roydell Williams on a 46-yard pass to the Houston 17.
"So I took a couple more practice kicks and coach let the time tick down to what, 2 seconds, and then I went out there so we could go home," Bironas said.
Now Bironas has his sixth game-winning field goal in his third NFL season and something that complements his 60-yarder that beat Indianapolis last December -- the third-longest winner in NFL history.
Not bad for the Auburn graduate who worked for his father's building automation company in Louisville, Ky., in 2001 and 2002 until Green Bay signed him in 2002.
He kicked for the af2's Swamp Foxes in 2003 and had a second job working security at a Best Buy in Charleston, S.C. This is the guy that went to camp with Green Bay in 2002, Tampa Bay in 2003 and Pittsburgh in 2004 while playing for the AFL's New York Dragons and Carolina Cobras.
That experience, with the insecurity that goes along with being a kicker, is why Bironas lived in an extended stay hotel in 2005 after winning the Titans job. He didn't buy a condo here until after his first season and had to beat out a rookie this training camp.
Bironas revels in the anonymity of an NFL kicker. Privacy will be tougher to enjoy for someone who had a stack of text messages waiting for him after his final kick. Not that he's thinking ahead.
"We've got 10 more games this year, so we'll see how the year turns out," he said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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