The Up and Down Life Of A Kicker

From Arrowhead Stadium

From outhouse, to penthouse … in the span of eight days – that was the trip Chiefs K Ryan Succop took in the last week and a day.

In San Diego last Sunday, he missed a very makeable 38-yard field goal and the Chiefs lost by three points to the Chargers.

A week later, Succop hit all five of his FG attempts, including a pair that were both beyond 50 yards, and he was one of the stars of the game in the Chiefs 22-17 victory over the Vikings.

“It was a little bit of a roller coaster, but I feel really, really blessed to have this opportunity for my team,” Succop said. “This was a huge victory for our team. It feels good to get that first win.”

Succop hit field goals of 22, 24, 40, 51 and 54 yards. On top of that, he kicked off six times; all of them went into the end zone and had stayed there for touchbacks.

“Ryan did a terrific job kicking the ball off and on field goals,” head coach Todd Haley said. “There was one that was a little steep and I was waffling back and forth on the 54-yarder. But Andy Studebaker, with conviction said to me, he’ll make it, so that was a good decision.”

In pre-game warm-ups, Succop had barely gotten the ball over the crossbar kicking towards the west uprights from 52 yards. From 54 yards, he didn’t have any second thoughts about giving it a go.

“I felt good hitting the ball all day,” Succop said. “I felt very at peace over the ball and I got under it well and I put a good stroke on it and knocked it through.”

Coming into the game, Succop was two of five on his FG attempts, a 40 percent average. That’s a number an NFL kicker should never get anywhere near, not in games, practices or even around the cul-de-sac with the neighbors. After last week’s game in San Diego, he had made a pair of kicks from 33 yards, while missing from 39, 44 and 49 yards.

Succop handled the attention well, taking the outcome of that game on his shoulders and talking about how he was going to work to be better.

“It was a difficult time and it was tough getting through it,” Succop said of the start to his season. “But my faith helped me get through it and persevere.”

Then last week he sat down with special teams coach Steve Hoffman, and on the tape Succop saw what part of his problem was on FGs.

“I was in too much of a hurry,” Succop said. “My tempo was off and I was rushing at the ball a little bit. I needed to slow down, to go at a pace like I usually did. I got going faster, speeding things up and it’s so slight a change that I didn’t notice it. But Coach Hoffman did and we worked on that this week in practice. Hopefully we can take this and build on it for the rest of the season.”

Now, after a 5-for-5 day, he’s 7-for-10 on the season, 70 percent and getting back closer to the 80-85 percent he needs to be at to stay an effective NFL place kicker.

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