From Arrowhead Stadium
Ryan Succop likes to play golf. He’s a Carolina boy, born and raised in North Carolina, college at South Carolina, so he knows a thing about swinging the sticks.
He wasn’t anywhere near the golf course on Sunday afternoon, but he had to deal with a blustery wind that was blowing through Arrowhead and would have been at least a club or two difference if he was hitting a golf ball rather than a football.
“In two years I never saw the wind blow in that fashion and direction in here,’ Succop said after his 35-yard field goal provided the Chiefs with the difference in a 13-10 overtime victory against Buffalo.
“I definitely learned something today.”
Succop lesson came the hard way. With 3 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in overtime, he had a 39-yard field goal chance. It’s one of those kicks that Succop has seldom missed during his 23-game NFL career. As he lined up the kick to win the game, he had made 11 of 12 FGs between the 30 and 39-yard lines.
Make it 11 of 13, as his kick got up into the wind swirling around the east end of the stadium and went wide left. It wasn’t a shank, it wasn’t a slice. The wind just grabbed the ball and pushed it left of the left upright.
“To be honest with you, that first kick I hit it where I wanted to, as crazy as that sounds,” Succop said. “It absolutely took off and took a left turn. When knew it was windy and I tried to play it right, but I never would’ve imagined it would’ve moved that much. It was unbelievable.”
And it left the Chiefs and Bills deadlocked with just 3:38 minutes remaining. If Succop was going to get redemption, the defense was going to have to stop Buffalo and leave some time on the clock. They got that done for their kicker.
“We’ve seen him make too many kicks in games and practices to doubt him if he got another chance,” said CB Brandon Flowers. “I had all the confidence in the world if we could get him back in that situation, he would make it.”
Todd Haley had no doubts either.
“Ryan’s a tough-minded guy,” said the Chiefs head coach. “It’s one of the reasons we really liked him last year and wanted to get him on our team. I think the first kick he hit it really good and there was clearly a major just of wind that you could feel rise up. I’ve watched him kick enough and that thing just boomeranged to the left.
“He did what he wanted to do and just missed it. That’s going to happen. There was a factor there that he didn’t quite account for.”
That didn’t happen the second time. The Chiefs defense forced a punt and the offense drove to the Bills 16-yard line. Succop had another chance, this time from 35 yards away.
“You miss one and you feel very fortunate to have another opportunity,” said Succop.
This time, he aimed the ball further to the right than he normally would. He got the ball up in the air and the wind pushed it through the pipes for his second overtime winning FG. The first was last November against Pittsburgh, also at Arrowhead.
“This is kind of a first-time experience for me,” said Succop. “Fortunately our team just came together and was just not going to be denied. What an effort by our team and our coaches.”