NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints burned 11 kicks in the first 11 years of Sean Peyton as head coach. But they finally found a goalie when they signed Baltimore Ravens quarterback Will Lutz in Week 1 of the 2016 season.
He made a story for them on Monday with a winning goal in the 58-yard field as time expired in the 30s Saints -28 win over Houston Texas.
Not only was Lutz a long career, but he was also the longest field goal in the last 10 seconds of a season-opening game since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
"We all felt that this was going to happen the moment we heard the ball come down from his foot," says Ju Brace. "It was a thunderous kick and we all knew it was going up."
It's not hyperbole – well, not quite. The saint was so confident in Lutz's foot that receiver Ted Jin Jr. appeared to celebrate after catching a 40-yard pass through the Texans in two seconds. He thought it was close enough for Lutz to win it.
"We all knew," says the saints running back Alvin Camara. "We see him put it into practice. If we put Will in position, we knew he could hit him."
Lutz actually missed a 56-yard attempt wide left before half time on Monday. But he ended the game 3 for 4 on field goal attempts. Last season, he made 28 of 30 before the Saints signed him to one of the richest kicker deals in the NFL (five years, $ 20.25 million).
Wil Lutz explains that he was confident in the Saints' ability to put him in a good position to shoot victory in the field against the Texans.
The saint has obviously had more success borrowing a young kick from the Ravens than the Minnesota Vikings (Minnesota trades fifth round to Baltimore for the Kaare Vedwick kick this summer, only to shorten it weeks later). But part of that was because the Saints were left with an unprepared rookie from Georgia State, even when he had a few early fluctuations in 2016, including a missed 61-yard attempt that would make his NFL debut.
Lutz brought up this game on Monday when asked how much pride he takes in the confidence the Saints have in him.
"You know, it's crazy. It brings back a memory. And the only reason I thought about it today was because Brad Zelly is [the Texans’ special-teams] Coach. He was the Oakland coach my first game so far when I missed the 61-yard touchdown. And Coach [Payton] came up here and told me that he still trusted me, "Lutz said." And that gives me the chills to think about. And here we are three years later, so it's pretty wild. "
Like most kickers, Lutz talks all the time to try to keep the process the same for every kick. But he admitted on Monday," I have to be honest, that person felt a little different. " "I'm obviously confident in what I'm doing. I'm confident in my surgery. I knew with 37 seconds left that we would be able to get at least to the field goal. In this situation, there is not a single blow that I would refuse, "Lutz said. "You know, we're talking about the strokes and flows of the game. The first half didn't go for me. And this is exactly what this game is about rebounding and being able to get your teammates to come back and kick you.
" it has to be – this has to be the moment for me from above. "