Michael Badgley wanted a chance to kick it from 64 yards.
He had to settle for 59.
After the Chargers opted to try a Hail Mary with one second to go in the first half, they received an untimed down after Philip Rivers drew Jordan Willis offsides.
Head Coach Anthony Lynn wasted little time sending his rookie kicker out onto the field.
In fact, Badgley was champing at the bit, begging for a chance at the 59-yarder.
“That young man was pulling my tail,” he said. “(He kept saying) ’Coach let me kick. Coach let me kick.’ I was going to let him kick it.”
Boy, did he ever deliver.
Badgley blasted it through the uprights, giving the Bolts a spark as they headed into halftime with a 17-12 lead.
It was the highlight of what proved to be a record-setting day for Badgley as his 59-yard field goal to end the first half was the longest in franchise history. Nate Kaeding previously held the record with a 57-yard field goal back in 2008.
While Badgley said he can make it from well over 60 yards in practice, he explained how this was the longest field goal he’s ever made in a game since he’s started playing.
He also had no doubt it was going through as he watched it sail through the air.
“It’s one of those situations where once you feel it come off your foot, you know you’ve got a chance and (I) saw it go over the crossbar,” he said. “(We) went into halftime with a nice lead…(it’s) not much different (than kicking any other field goal). Everything’s the same swing. In that situation, when I go out there, I swing my leg. They just called timeout so I wanted to stay loose and just feel good.”
Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense has been lights-out all year, ranking among the NFL’s best in total offense (fifth), points per game (sixth), passing (eighth) and rushing (10th) among a litany of other categories.
However, while they put up strong numbers by league standards, Sunday fell short of their left expectations. They still managed to move the ball, they found the end zone only twice, giving Badgley numerous opportunities. He ended up making all four of his field goal attempts (59, 31, 32, 45) and both extra points.
As a result, he totaled 14 points on the afternoon to bring his career total to 62, passing Dennis Partee for the most by a Chargers kicker through seven career games.
“It’s cool to come in here and just be blessed with the opportunity,” Badgley said. “I wasn’t with the team in preseason or any of that. (My opportunity) came a couple of weeks in. Just how these guys have welcomed me to this organization, my teammates, it’s awesome to go out there and do something like that and show them what I’ve got.”
Thus, you can understand why Rivers and company have all the confidence in the world in Badgley.
“It’s awesome (to have him),” number 17 said. “It gives you confidence that you have in him, and I think just like it’s one game at a time, it’s one kick at a time and everything is new… He’s a football player, at least from what I’m gathering. He played a little quarterback and safety in high school. He hasn’t been a kicker his whole life, not that being a kicker your whole life is a negative by any means, but I’ve seen him throw the football; he can throw the heck out of the ball. Just the way he carries himself I guess is a little more like a guy who has played other positions in his life.”
“We’ve had our kicking woes in the past, and I think as an offense, (with Badgley) it makes us more confident that we can score points whenever we cross the 50,” added Russell Okung. “I think it’s great. Throughout the week, Badgley always wants to get as many long field goals as possible. He really wants to challenge himself to be a great kicker, and to see that come into fruition on a Sunday during a real game in real time, it’s huge because it shows that he wants that pressure and he wants to deliver for the team.”
Lynn also explained how Badgley’s presence changes the way he manages a game.
“When I get down inside the 50 and the 40, I’m not thinking about fourth downs and going for it as much,” he said. “It’s good to have a kicker that has leg strength.”
What made Badgley’s performance even more impressive was it came on the heels of an atypical week of practice. With heavy rain altering the Chargers’ practice schedule, including a Thursday walk-through session in a local high school gym on what typically is a heavy kicking day, the rookie wasn’t able to go through his usual routine.
It obviously didn’t matter.
“We didn’t get to practice field goals Thursday because of rain, so we practiced today I guess,” Lynn joked. “We normally score more touchdowns than (we did today), but sometimes you’ve just got to play complementary football. I thought that special teams did that today with the field goals and the coverage.”
Badgley also had ice in his veins with a 45-yard kick with less than a minute remaining.
Miss it and the Bengals have the ball at their own 35 with 1:01 to go in the game needing a field goal of their own to win the game.
Instead, the rookie drilled it, capping a record-setting day that he’ll long remember.
However, when it comes to kicking, Badgley explained he has a short memory.
“It’s just one of those things where you’re going one kick at a time, whether it’s practice or in a game,” he said. “You’re just going play by play, and it’s one of those situations that came up Sunday night. Had to go get the job done. And then in a game like this, coach calls your name, you’ve got to go do your job.... You just think about what you know you’re comfortable doing and what you’ve been doing your whole life, and how you feel and win your teammates over. They feel confident in you and get the coaches to feel confident in you. Just be a pro. That’s what I kind of am always. Just be a pro.”