NFL@L.A.: Mike Windst
September, 11, 2011
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireMike Scifres is congratulated by teammates after connecting on a 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Vikings.
SAN DIEGO -- Mike Scifres didn’t exactly know how to feel when he found out he would have to handle kicking duties after the opening kickoff of the San Diego Chargers’ season.
Scifres has been the Chargers’ punter since 2003 but hadn’t attempted a field goal since he was at Western Illinois and he didn’t even want to think about that attempt.
“I tried not to think about it,” he said.
San Diego and Scifres, however, didn’t have any other options when Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding injured his left knee on the opening kickoff, which was returned 103 yards for a touchdown. Not only were the Chargers down 7-0 but they were also down their Pro Bowl kicker with nothing more than a punter, trying to forget his kicking days as an option.
“That first extra point was the first time I had been behind the line with a snap and a hold since college,” Scifres said. “I’ll tell you that last field goal I kicked in college wasn’t pretty, but I hadn’t done it in a while.”
That last kick came 10 years ago at Western Illinois on a desperation 61-yard attempt Scifres said didn’t even get 10 yards off the ground before dying in mid-air. Scifres did admit he made a game-winning 56-yard field goal in his first career field-goal attempt in 1999 but couldn’t remember much else.
“That was a long time ago,” said Scifres, who signed a five-year, $20 million contract extension with the Chargers this week.
Chargers coach Norv Turner wasn’t going to put Scifres in a situation where he had to kick a 56- or 61-yard field goal Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Then again, he didn’t know the range of his punter who practices field goals maybe once every month by his estimation and never practices kickoffs.