The smile remained plastered on Michael Badgley’s face long after the clock struck zero.
His head constantly shook back and forth in near disbelief, letting out a small chuckle every so often while talking to reporters.
It almost seemed too good to be true.
A game-winning field goal in December on the road to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a battle of AFC heavyweights with playoff implications on the line. Add in the fact that he began the season without a job following an impressive collegiate career with the Miami Hurricanes and a perfect preseason with the Indianapolis Colts, and you can understand why the moment was so sweet for the 23-year-old New Jersey native.
However, while relishing the moment, Badgley repeatedly credited his teammates for the win.
“It’s awesome,” he said of his game-winner. “It’s primetime. We had a great team win and the way that these guys came out in the second half and fought, we didn’t give up. We could’ve just let them take the win and knowing them in December, their history of football, for us to come out and get a win like that, it’s awesome.… It’s more meaningful that we could come into Pittsburgh and get a team win. Come back from the way we did and finish them off like that, it’s awesome. I’m glad I was able to do my job at the end of the game there and win this.”
In fact, only one thing would have made the moment sweeter...and it’s something Badgley and the Bolts hope comes to fruition in just over 60 days.
“The Super Bowl’s probably the one I actually dreamt of most, but Sunday night, as a kicker you want to make plays, and I guess that’s the opportunity to make a play right there,” he said before letting another smile spread across his face. “A game winner over the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
However, it’s safe to say when Badgley grew up dreaming of moments like this, he never could have imagined in his wildest dreams it would play out like it did.
In fact, it’s one of the most bizarre endings in recent memory as he had not one, not two, but three chances at the game winner.
As Badgley lined up for a 39-yard field goal in the waning seconds of a tie game, the Steelers’ Joe Haden jumped offside, forcing the ball to barely sail wide left.
The crowd erupted expecting to go to overtime. Instead, it was a five-yard penalty and an untimed down.
Well, it was déjà vu all over again as the Steelers jumped offsides once again, this time allowing them to block the kick. Heinz Field once again roared before they saw the yellow flag on the ground.
Believe it or not, the Steelers jumped offsides for a third straight time on the next snap, but Badgley drilled the kick nonetheless, sending the Bolts home to Los Angeles with the 33-30 win.
“You see in the corner of your eye if somebody’s jumping (when) it’s blatant,” Badgley explained. “That kind of deal you notice. But you never know what the call’s going to be, so you’ve got to do your job and we got a couple chances there. They blocked one, and we put the last one through. That’s all that matters. You see that you’re getting the calls, and you know you’re going to get another chance, (so) it’s just mentally, you’ve got to stick with it. Stay in there.”
While Badgley remained even-keeled, his teammates on the sideline experienced a roller coaster of emotions. No one summed up the Bolts’ emotions better than Philip Rivers.
“I was standing back on the other 20, and I could see the offsides from back there,” he said. “The first one was obvious to me. I saw the flag, I didn’t see the flag on the second one and I said, ‘Here we were (going) to overtime, you’ve got to be kidding me.’ I think they were clear. I didn’t see any replays, but then we finished it there with Badge (Badgley) making it and finishing it off. So, that was their version of icing him I guess without the time out and made him kick it three times.”
According to Antonio Gates, there’s no one the Chargers would rather have out there in that situation than Michael Badgley.
“Well, we haven’t had the best of luck attempting several kicks and field goals (earlier this year), but with the guys that we have now and the special teams group, to be honest with you, there really was no doubt in my mind that we were going to make that kick,” added Antonio Gates. “That’s the feeling that we get throughout the season. That’s how we feel. And that’s something that carries on into the game. It’s the idea of believing in your teammates. That’s what we’ve done throughout the season. That’s what we did today. Fortunately, we were able to get the win.”
Take a look inside the Bolts' locker room as the Chargers celebrate their huge road win over the Steelers during Sunday Night Football.