On a day that showed the highs and lows of being a kicker, Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes ended up living the kicker's dream.
His kick, arguably the second-most famous kick of his career, sent the Giants to yet another Super Bowl. The kicker booted it right down the middle, a kick that looked good as soon as it left his leg.
Just hours before his kick, though, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have tied Sunday's game against New England. His kick went wide left and the Patriots won the game. Unlike Tynes, Cundiff had lived the kicker's nightmare.
"It can happen to any of us. Billy is a great kicker that's gone to Pro Bowls," Tynes said. "It stinks that what happened happened, but at the end of the day, Billy will bounce back. He's a pro, he handled it well and he didn't run and hide and I can respect that. That's what we signed up for. It can happen to any of us."
Tynes understands how close he came to being a goat in a championship game. Against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game in 2008, Tynes missed two kicks that would have won the Giants the game in regulation before eventually making the overtime kick that would send the Giants to the Super Bowl.
The kicker said he certainly knows that he would not be back with the Giants had he missed that kick, though he's confident he would have landed with another team. He knows that there would have been a label attached to him for his failures in those key moments.
"It's an A or an F. You either make it or you didn't," Tynes said. "There's no almost made it, there's no almost missed it. It's pretty black and white and that's the reality of what we do. It stinks sometimes but it's why we all signed up. It's a tough job. I'm not going to sit here and say it's easy but I enjoy the pressure part of it."
On Sunday, Tynes gave himself more credence as a clutch kicker in the league. For the second time, his kick won his team an NFC Championship Game, with both coming on the road in less-than-perfect conditions.
Teammate Justin Tuck said that Tynes is one of the more confident players on the team but kind of arrogant at times, and the kicker said that it's needed at his position for big kicks. He said he wants his teammates to be able to have faith in him and that edge is needed to show his teammates that he can make the clutch kick—just like he did against the 49ers.
"To have it happen once is awesome," Tynes said of a game-winning kick. "To have it happen twice, I'm blessed to play this game, but it's really, really cool and the thing is you play for a good team you're going to be in big games, that's kind of what its amounted to."