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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Kicker's Reprieve

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Lawrence Tynes was one kick from possibly being the most hated man in the history of New York sports. Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez is not a popular baseball figure, but his lack of postseason production has not cost his team a game. Knicks coach Isaiah Thomas is methodically tarnishing his team's legacy, but it would take a second sexual harassment suit to move him up to No.1. Even those who blame Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood for missing his 47-yard field goal in Super Bowl XXV against New York in 1991 know attempts of that length are not gimmes. Tynes would not have been hated for failing in New York's NFC Championship Game against Green Bay, but for the amount of times he failed. He missed a 43-yard kick against Green Bay that would have broken a 20-20 tie with 6:49 remaining. Tynes then missed a 36-yarder as time expired that would have given New York the victory.
But it is what Tynes did after those misses that catapulted New York into Super Bowl XLII, where it will face New England on Sunday. "I really didn't realize how big of a kick it was until talking with people after the game," Tynes said. Most kickers would have realized how big the first kick was. Many would have cracked after missing the second one. Not Tynes. Giants coach Tom Coughlin was seen yelling at Tynes after he missed the kick before overtime, but in the kicker's mind, the coach was speaking a different language. "I don't hear him. I do not hear him. I mean, I don't listen to him," Tynes said. "I hear it, but I have no idea what he is saying." Tynes' ability to focus reminds his teammates of New York's other "L.T.," the legendary Lawrence Taylor - sort of. "I call him L.T. all the time," Giants defensive end Michael Strahan said. "But he's kind of a L.T. half-pint ... he's a kicker, man." Tynes is a former Troy State kicker who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Kansas City in 2001. After brief stints with the Chiefs and one season in NFL Europe (2002), Tynes was signed by the Canadian Football League's Ottawa Rough Riders and played there in 2003. Tynes was a Rough Rider for two seasons before making Kansas City's permanent roster in 2004. He was traded to New York before this season for a conditional draft choice. "The CFL for me is close to my heart, because the league is such a small league," Tynes said. "Everyone has a passion for the game. No one is making a lot of money. The fans are great." There were plenty of Giants fans ready to ship Tynes back to Canada when he lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt, his fifth of the NFC title game. Tynes never thought of what would happen if he missed a third field goal. In Tynes' mind, he was going to make that kick. "That's what makes him such a great competitor," Giants holder Jeff Feagles said. "He was so confident that he was going to make that kick, he didn't care about what was being talked about. When you make plays during a game, you don't think about what is going to happen after you are done. That's why great players make great plays." After Tynes made the 47-yard kick to advance New York into the Super Bowl, Giants fans worldwide put down their baseball bats to celebrate. Rodriguez, Thomas and Norwood will remain the most detested sports figures in New York, and Tynes hopes not to join that club Sunday against New England. "It was only the second time in my career that I missed two field goals in a game," Tynes said. "It was frustrating, but oddly enough, the other time it happened, I kicked a game-winner against Oakland. "If you do miss two field goals, you have to kick a game-winner."

Reporter Anwar S. Richardson can be reached at (813) 259-8425 or [email protected]

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