Separated by 200 feet of locker-room space and miles of self-confidence, 2 kickers talked in equally measured tones about their roles Sunday in the Buffalo Bills’ 23-20 victory over the New England Patriots.
Buffalo’s Scott Norwood kicked 3 field goals, including the game-winner with 13 seconds left. New England’s Teddy Garcia missed 3 field-goal attempts and an extra-point attempt.
Norwood, whose visualization techniques have helped him make 22 of 25 field-goal attempts and all 15 extra-point conversions this season, said he sympathized with Garcia, a rookie who has missed 5 extra points and 7 of 13 field-goal attempts.
“It’s something all kickers have gone through,” said Norwood, who has made 8 consecutive field goals. “You just have to put it behind you to be successful.”
Garcia didn’t make excuses.
“When you miss 9 points, that’s a loss in itself,” said Garcia, who added that he tried to make some adjustments but “no matter what I did to try and correct it, I couldn’t.”
The Patriots forced 4 Buffalo turnovers and got a sensational rushing effort from rookie John Stephens, who carried 25 times for 134 yards and 1 touchdown.
But Garcia’s problems proved too much to overcome.
“The kicking game hurt us a lot,” said New England Coach Raymond Berry, whose team dropped to 3-5. “I’m sure Teddy has lost his confidence, and I think that’s the main problem.”
Buffalo improved its AFC East-leading record to 7-1, but Coach Marv Levy admitted: “We were fortunate to win.”
The Bills drove 69 yards on their last possession before Norwood broke a 20-20 tie with a 33-yard field goal. Norwood also connected from 35 and 30 yards out. Garcia missed from 25 and 52 yards, and had a 39-yarder blocked.
The Bills snapped a 13-13 tie near the end of the third quarter after Garcia, who missed 2 field goals in the first half, had his third attempt of the day blocked by Howard Ballard.
A 49-yard reception by Trumaine Johnson was the big play in a 75-yard drive that ended with Jim Kelly hitting tight end Pete Metzelaars for a 10-yard touchdown pass that gave Buffalo a 20-13 lead.
But the Patriots’ defense helped New England get back in the game when cornerback Raymond Clayborn intercepted a Kelly pass, giving the Patriots the ball at the Buffalo 34.
A pass interference penalty in the end zone on the Bills’ Dwight Drane moved the ball to the 1-yard line, and Robert Perryman crashed through the line for the touchdown that tied the score at 20-20.