GLENDALE, Ariz. — For a few minutes Sunday, Cardinals kicker Jay Feely was the hero. He had just nailed a 61-yard field goal — a franchise- and personal-best — to tie the score againt the Bills with just over a minute to play. The crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium roared in delight.
That same crowd was silenced mere minutes later when Feely missed a 38-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime, where the Bills pulled out a 19-16 win.
“You go from on-top-of-the-world to feeling to about as low as you can feel when you have an opportunity and you don’t come through, regardless of how it happened,” Feely said. “As a group, we’ve got to make a 38-yard field goal.”
Before the game, Feely told coaches he felt he could make any kick within 55 yards. But when the Cardinals faced a 4th-and-10 down by three, coach Ken Whisenhunt believed Feely was his best option. When he asked Feely if he could make the 61-yard try, Feely did not hesitate.
“I’d been hitting the ball well all day, and I felt like if I hit it well, I could make that kick,” Feely said. “I was thrilled to make it, but all I care about is winning. The fact that we didn’t win that game negates everything else.”
The loss might negate any good feelings that come with the new record, but it didn’t take away the fact that Feely had broken his own previous franchise record of 55 yards, set in 2010. Feely joined the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein and the 49ers’ David Akers as the only kickers in the NFL to make field goals of more than 60 yards this season.
Feely’s 61-yard make even looked easy, clearing the crossbar with room to spare. The 38-yarder, on the other hand, slammed into the left upright and bounced away. Feely said the kick was tipped, though Whisenhunt thought it looked clean.
“To not convert that field goal and win it right there at the end after all we went through was hard, obviously, very hard,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s just kind of the way our day went. It hit the upright and it didn’t go in.”
The miss, Feely’s second this season, could prove more costly in the context of the difficult stretch of games ahead for the Cardinals. However, Sunday’s game almost certainly should not have come down to a field-goal attempt.
“We had so many missed plays, dropped balls, opportunities to make plays we didn’t make,” Whisenhunt said. “We have to make some plays earlier in the game so we aren’t living on the edge.”
Between the miscues Whisenhunt mentioned, a late injury to starting quarterback Kevin Kolb and an interception by replacement John Skelton, there was no shortage of explanations for the loss. But Feely’s miss rises above all others. That’s just how it goes in the NFL.
“I probably won’t go to bed,” Feely said. “It will gnaw at you and eat at you, even tomorrow. But once tomorrow is over, you have to put it aside and you have to move forward and get ready for Minnesota.”